Did a message in a bottle really travel 800 miles from England to Denmark in mere months? And why has not even the combined effort of the internet been enough to turn up its mysterious 6-year-old sender?
The saga begins in Hellerup, Denmark, where Carsten Hornecker, 46, was vacationing at his family's summer home when his wife, Anja, found a mysterious bottle on the beach. When the couple uncorked the bottle, they found a note that appeared to have been written by a 6-year-old named Freddy from London — over 800 miles away.
"It was such a surprise to see that the message was from this boy so far away, and we felt it really deserved a reply that it had been found," Hornecker told TODAY.
The gesture tugged Hornecker's heartstrings because "I could definitely have done the same thing. In fact, I did!" he said. "I wrote a message and put it in a bottle and threw it into the nearby lake. So, not that much of a chance of it to ride the waves of the big, blue sea, but for me it was nevertheless adventurous.
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"I guess we all would like to make new friends in faraway places, the same way that we find it exciting to receive messages in a bottle from strangers."
Hornecker posted a photo of the bottle to his Facebook page, hoping it might somehow find its way back to Freddy. The post took off, receiving over 12,000 shares since August 2.
Both TODAY and Hornecker have spoken with sources claiming to be Freddy's schoolteachers, who offered to contact his parents. But it seems he is staying anonymous for now. "Freddy is still like a little friendly ghost to us," Hornecker said.
Even so, Hornecker loves hearing from others who have become invested the search. He told TODAY that the response has been mostly positive.
"When I posted the Facebook message, my only hopes were to find Freddy," he said. "But if this small input from me on social media can create a sense of togetherness and excitement over a unified goal, that's fine by me."
A few critics have griped about "pollution." "Personally, I can live with this kind of pollution," Hornecker responded. "After all, it is not polluting anymore, as we did pull it out of the sea."
Others questioned whether the message could really travel from London to Denmark in such a short time (the letter is dated 2016). A popular theory is that Freddy's family spent their summer holiday in Denmark and that Freddy's bottle merely traveled down the beach, to be found in essentially the same spot a few days later.
For now, only Freddy knows the truth.
"This story is a great one," Hornecker said. "There is a bit of adventure, history, mystery and childish fun about it all, and it's a story where no one has got hurt — something we can all do with in times where so many other news are more negative."