Nov. 3, 1997

Cornell's giant pumpkin makes national news

McGraw Tower with pumpkine

A giant pumpkin's mysterious appearance atop Cornell's landmark McGraw Tower has been making national news since early October.

The pumpkin was first seen impaled on the peak of the 173-foot tower on Oct. 8. Because of the cost and danger involved in removing it, university officials decided to leave the pumpkin on the tower until it rots and falls.

In anticipation of the pumpkin's inevitable descent, university safety officials cordoned off the area directly below the tower on Nov. 4 so that the tumbling gourd would not fall on anybody. Jim Greiger, manager of occupational health and safety, said that the pumpkin would plummet at a rate of 72 miles-per-hour and could cause serious injury it it fell intact.

Exactly how the pumpkin, which could weigh as much as 60 pounds, was placed on top of McGraw Tower, and by whom, is still not known. Cornell Police are continuing an investigation into the prank, and cautioned that no one should try to repeat the dangerous stunt.

The mystery and sheer daring of the prank generated coverage by the national news media, beginning with an article in The New York Times on Oct. 27. The Cornell Daily Sun ran a daily "Pumpkin Watch" through Halloween and editor-in-chief Hilary Krieger was interviewed live on the scene by Matt Lauer of the Today Show on Oct. 28. The Associated Press ran a news story and photo of the pumpkin that appeared in newspapers across the nation. The Cornell News Service handled radio interviews from cities as far away as Minneapolis and Reno, Nev. CNN, MTV and NBC news programs also carried pumpkin reports.

The McGraw Pumpkin has entered Cornell's history books as one of the longest and most charmingly mysterious pranks ever inflicted on the campus community.