The Naval Academy’s Class of 2019’s Herndon monument climb will begin at 1:30 p.m., Monday, May 23, near the front of the Naval Academy Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.
Each year, the roughly 1,000 members of the academy’s plebe (freshman) class form a human pyramid around the 21-foot tall Herndon Monument to remove a plebe hat, or “dixie cup,” that upperclassmen have placed on the top of the obelisk. The midshipman who makes it to the top then replaces the “dixie cup” with a midshipman’s hat.
The event will begin with a recognition of the accomplishments of the Class of 2019 by Naval Academy Superintendent, Vice Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter, Jr, and will conclude with an award to the Class of 2019.
The Herndon Monument Climb is the traditional culmination of plebe year at the Naval Academy. Demonstrating the teamwork and perseverance they have learned during their first year at the Academy, the plebes build a human pyramid to remove the “Dixie Cup” hat at the top of the lard-covered monument and replace it with an upperclassman’s hat.
The monument is 21 feet tall and is covered with 50 pounds of lard (Crisco) by midshipmen of the 1st Company. The first recorded time was the Class of 1965 with a time of 3 minutes. The fastest time was accomplished by the Class of 1972 in 1 minute, 30 seconds (no grease). The longest time goes to the Class of 1998 which took more than 4 hours to climb.