Goodbye planking, hello phooning: Manchester joins global craze with very own Piccadilly Phoon

In a clandestine world of muggles, hidden packages and encrypted messages, a bizarre new trend is emerging – The Piccadilly Phoon.

Similar to the social media craze planking, phooning involved the phooner remaining motionless in a pose that resembles a runner, motionless mid-stride, usually with a sheepish grin on their face.

In fact, the phoon is described by the Urban Dictionary as ‘standing on one foot, tilted forward at the waist, with one bent arm held in front and the other bent arm held behind’.

PIC A FAVE PHOON: This red group compete to see who’s the master phooner

But in order for a phoon to be officially verified, the phooner must first find a secret package, known as a Geocache.

What is a Geocache?

Believe it or not, Geocaching is a global treasure hunt movement in which secret packages are hidden in specific locations across the world.

More than six million people play the game worldwide, with almost 2.5 million carefully hidden Geochaches scattered across the globe.

The UK even has its own official governing body – The Geocaching Association of Great Britain.

PHOON HOME: Dad and lad strut their stuff

In this high-tech online treasure hunt, anonymous players use GPS devices to locate geocaches, before signing a log book and moving on to add to their collection – all done under a pseudonym.

The secretive nature of this ‘real-world computer game’ encourages participants to avoid muggles – those who are not players – from spotting the location of the hidden Ggeocache.

The international ‘hide and seek’ game sees items of all kinds used as the treasure or Geocache, but are generally of more personal or sentimental value rather than monetary and are stored in a specific location.

These Geocache locations must be used for anyone hoping for their phooning attempt to be logged. In fact, in order for a phoon to be officially verified, the phooner must first find the Geocache.

ACTING LIKE BU-PHOONS! Everybody gets involved at Piccadilly Gardens

The locations of the Geocaches are as diverse as the people who search them out– from the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth to the surface of the Mariana Trench, seven miles under the Atlantic Ocean.

They’re hidden up trees, down drains, on top of mountains and in underground caves.

One particular Geocache (officially named GC3JXPC for those planning on hunting it down) is in Piccadilly Gardens.  

And now the Piccadilly Phoon is Manchester’s unique contribution to the global game.

More than 1,000 people have so far found the Geocache and performed the phoon in Piccadilly.

A phooning flash-mob was even held last month in which phooners from across the UK came together at the site of the cache to perform a ‘Mass Phoon’.

PHOON-ING IN: All ages had a go

For some, Geocaching has become less of a game and more a lifetime obsession.

The world’s leading Geocacher, a Californian who goes by the moniker Alamogul, has found more than 100,000 Geocaches in his 12 years of hunting.

Describing himself as a professional Geocacher, travelling the globe looking for Geocaches is now his full time occupation since retirement.

There is however one significant chink in his armour – he’s yet to do the Piccadilly Phoon.

With thousands of Geocaches hidden all cross the city, your nearest may well be closer than you think – happy hunting!

All images courtesy of with thanks.

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