It has been 50 years since a McNary High School Class of 1973 prank became national news.
As David Cassidy, the senior class president at the time, wrote, “A clandestine group of McNary senior ne’er-do-well miscreants found themselves on the McNary campus around midnight and, with nothing else to do, put 73 tires over the flagpole as a class shenanigan.”
Cassidy said once he and his cohorts decided on the tires-over-the-flagpole trick, they encountered another group of students, spray cans in hand, ready to graffiti the school building. “We told them ‘no.’” remembers Cassidy.
The tires were procured from a local tire store, with permission, but the wrong ones were taken. The students were approved to take from a stack of unusable tires; instead they mistakenly took tires from a stack destined for retreading.
The tires had to be returned to the store after the prank.
How did they get the tires over the top of the top and ring the flagpole? They enlisted star pole vaulter Dave Porter, in harness, to climb to the top of the pole. Then, one by one, each tire was sent up to Porter via the flag rope. Porter unhooked each tire and placed it over the top of the pole.
Before the prank got that far, a Marion County Sheriff’s deputy happened on the scene. The boys explained what they were doing, but the deputy said they needed permission from the school’s principal.
Upon returning to Cassidy’s home, they contacted deputy principal Bruce Barker, who gave his assent. The boys raced back to McNary and told the sheriff’s deputy they had permission from a vice principal. Not good enough; they needed permission from the principal, Mr. Wilson.
Wilson’s first response was no. Cassidy told him that there was a group of students who were ready to paint graffiti. “If you come to school and see graffiti, it wasn’t us,” Cassidy told him. Faced with that, the principal grudgingly gave approval, and the prank was on.
Cassidy remembers the Wednesday evening in May as very cold. At one point the boys on the ground were concerned for Porter who was getting muscle cramps due to the harness. After all the tires were over the flagpole Cassidy, Porter and others repelled to the top of the pile of tires and posed for a triumphant photo.
A photo of tires and the flagpole was sent to a local newspaper. The Associated Press picked up the photo and it soon went national.