A Visit from St. Nicholas?

‘Twas the month before Christmas, Thanksgiving weekend 
On a campus deserted, but lo! There ascends
We know not yet which – sleigh, climber, or drone
To place upon high a garment on loan
From a jolly old elf: a hat red and white;
A mischievous prank under cover of night…

Exactly 22 years and 58 days after one of the most famous pranks in the history of the Ivy League, another mysterious object appeared atop Cornell University’s McGraw Tower on Sunday, December 1. This time, instead of a hollow gourd, it was a Santa hat. No one has come forward to claim responsibility for the caper, and the perpetrators’ means of access is unknown. 

A swirl of questions surrounded the pumpkin, after it was discovered on the morning of October 8, 1997. Speculators wondered whether it was real and pondered how anyone had managed to impale it at the top of a steeply-sloping metal roof. Student scientists competed to obtain a sample of the object to confirm that it was, indeed, a pumpkin. And finally, after enduring five months of winter conditions, the shriveled fruit was removed with a crane. To this day, the pranksters have not revealed their identities (Vertical Access was not involved). 

Unlike the pumpkin, the hat has disappeared just as quietly as it appeared. Did a certain toymaker reclaim his cap? Did the wind blow it down? Why didn’t they call VA? We may never know.

While Vertical Access had nothing to do with the placement of the hat – “my alibi is rock-solid,” says Founding Partner Kent Diebolt [Cornell ‘82] – we stand at the ready to put our expertise to work in accessing, documenting, or removing the next object to appear atop McGraw Tower.