‘Tahoe Tessie’ prank to help launch new business

Tahoe Tessie standing tall.
Matthew Smith

Recent sightings in Kings Beach were posted online of the infamous “Tahoe Tessie,” a mythical lake creature whose name is spun off of the legendary “Loch Ness Monster” or “Nessie” in Scotland.

These sightings of Tessie began to pop up on Facebook forums. Not long after, speculation began to stir about what the object poking out of the water may be.

The creature turned out to be the owner of Lake and Wake Tahoe riding an electric hydrofoil with a mock Tahoe Tessie head that was constructed by Tony Ferusio and Lorenzo Fitzpatrick. The pair used a piece of PVC pipe and a broom for the skeleton, then draped a green cloth for the body and stitched it together with safety pins.

“When Matt was riding the eFoil holding it up, it really came to life,” said Ferusio.

“We got up super early and got the brother out there. Took as many videos as I could with my camera and then just posted it the next day on a bunch of (social media) accounts,” Fitzpatrick said.

Matthew Smith riding an eFoil disguised as Tahoe Tessie.
Lorenzo Fitzpatrick

Lake and Wake Tahoe is a new business to the Tahoe area. It had a rough start during its official launch in August due to the pandemic and the Caldor Fire, which resulted in a dramatic halt to local tourism.

Smith and his friends began to brainstorm marketing ideas about how to bring in business. They had thought of creating a video of the Silver Surfer or Aladdin flying on a magic carpet, when Ferusio came up with the idea of creating a fake Tahoe Tessie head that would appear to emerge from the water.

“A few things made me want to do the prank,” said Ferusio. “One is that I wanted to help get Lake and Wake Tahoe some eyes, because he started a new business this year and with COVID and the smoke it made it hard for him to get a proper launch. Number two was to try and get people talking about something new and different. There’s a lot going on in the world, and I thought this could be refreshing.”

Tahoe Tessie ended up going viral.

“I think people were very curious and out of the million or so people on TikTok and Facebook who saw it, I would say a large majority thought something was up as it did go viral,” said Ferusio.

Smith had been trying to come up with lots of ways to make the best out of the situation that the community and his business had been in. During the height of the Caldor Fire approaching South Lake Tahoe, Smith decided to host a charity event for firefighters who had been fighting the wildfire, giving them free rides on his eFoils back in early September.

Matthew Smith riding an eFoil on Lake Tahoe
Chris Bartkowski

Lake and Wake Tahoe currently operates out of North Tahoe Beach, across from Safeway in Kings Beach, but next year Smith plans to add a location on the South Shore near Stateline.

Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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