The Naval Academy's Class of 2015 succeeded in replacing… (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun )
They are plebes no longer.
It took two hours, 10 minutes and 13 seconds Tuesday for the freshman class at the U.S. Naval Academy to have one of its own knock a plebe's "dixie cup" hat from the top of the greased Herndon Monument and replace it with a midshipman's hat, symbolically morphing the group into 4th-class Mids.
Andrew Craig, 19, of Tulsa, Okla., achieved the goal in the noisy and slippery event that drew between 800 and 1,000 plebes, officials said. Tradition holds that the student who caps the monument will be first in the class to reach the rank of admiral, though that has yet to happen.
The climb up the 21-foot-tall obelisk on the grounds of the military college in Annapolis apparently isn't such a challenge if the monument is fat-free. The climb took just over two minutes in 2010, the last time the structure wasn't greased.
This year, 50 pounds of lard was slathered on the obelisk, dedicated to the memory of Commander William Lewis Herndon, who went down with his ship in 1857.
Gary and Karen Hinderland flew in from their home in Webster, N.Y., to watch their son participate in the rite of passage. Jack Hinderland, 20, was among the plebes at the bottom helping to form the platform, his father said.
"They were fighting hard. They'd come up and get so close and somebody's knees would buckle and they'd crumble," Gary Hinderland said, laughing as he recalled the sight of plebes piling onto each other, groping their way up and slip-sliding away before one made it to the top.
The climb is the final event for plebes as a freshman class, academy officials said. However, they won't stay 4th-class Mids long. They move up to 3rd class once the Class of 2012 graduates on Tuesday.