A kiss is just a kiss even for a pig

June 19, 1994|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Sun Staff Writer

Tom McShane bent over and puckered up, but the object of his affection -- a 115-pound pig named Silky -- would have none of it.

Despite roars of encouragement from students and faculty at Harford County's William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School, as well as other on-lookers, Silky inched farther away. Mr. McShane, the school's principal, persisted. Finally, he and the furry black pig went lip to lip in a chaste smooch.

The audience, which included administrators and parents, howled with laughter as Silky, a Vietnamese potbellied pig sporting bristly whiskers and a persistent drool, squealed with indignation.

Mr. McShane, who had eaten breath mints before the event, wiped his mouth with a red bandanna.

At the beginning of the school year, Mr. McShane promised he would buss a porker if his students could collect 1 million pennies to buy computer lab equipment.

"We wanted to show the students what 1 million was," he said. "And, I wanted to show students how working together with their teachers and local businesses could accomplish a goal."

The smooching ceremony, held outside the school in the heat and humidity Thursday, included a master of ceremonies clad in a tuxedo. Children and teachers, many wearing pig-adorned clothing, sang songs about kissing pigs. A large glass-and-wood square bin in front of a podium was filled with the 1,193,503 pennies the children have collected.

Many parents brought video cameras and spent much of the ceremony ordering people to sit down or get out of the way.

First-grader Elisha Peregino wore a white headband adorned with pink piggy ears and a large pink snout. "We are wearing this so Mr. McShane could see what a pig's nose and mouth looked like," she said.

James W. Cannon watched the ceremonial kiss with his nephew John, a student at the school.

"I've never seen a man kiss a pig before," he said.

The money, nearly $12,000, will be used for a second computer lab at the school.

"Most of our computers were bought by the PTA. We have been very lucky to have such a strong group of parents," Mr. McShane said.

Inside the school, pigs dominated the decor in the administrative offices. A large blue piggy bank sat atop the file cabinets beside two stuffed pigs in red and white ruffles that were hugging.

Mr. McShane's office was adorned with pig posters, stuffed fluffy pigs and a pig calendar.

But the kiss was the thing.

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