It’s one of the most popular annual events at the Naval Academy. And this year, the most entertaining part about the tradition is back!
First-year students, called plebes, will scale the Herndon Monument today in an attempt to pluck a hat off the top. And after a one-year stoppage, the 21-foot-tall obelisk will once again be greased.
Last year, for the first time in almost 40 years, outgoing Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler told midshipman not to slather the monument with 200 pounds of lard because he had safety concerns. The result: plebes reached the top in a near record time of two minutes, five seconds.
But this year, new superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller said the tradition will return. In a statement, Miller said that conducting the ceremonial climb in the same manner as many previous classes helps to instill spirit and camaraderie among students. He also said it better links them to classes before them.
That means later today, 1,000 plebes will rush the monument at the sound of a cannon blast and spend as much as four hours attempting to pull a “Dixie cup” hat off the top and replace it with a midshipman’s hat. Legend goes that the person to reach the top will be the first person in their class to reach the rank of admiral.