A member of the Cornell community has come forward with photographic evidence independently verified by The Sun that shows they were the person who pierced the pumpkin on the spire of McGraw Tower on Friday, Oct. 20. Photos showed the culprit carrying the 40-pound pumpkin in a trash bag before impaling it onto the tower’s spire.
“I heard that it was claimed to be put up by two men and I knew firsthand that wasn’t the case so I came to The Sun,” said the culprit, who requested anonymity for privacy concerns.
Like the 1997 prank, no one could be truly sure who did it — despite two students initially jumping at the chance to claim responsibility for the prank — as The Sun could not verify the claims of the alleged pranksters due to there being no photographic evidence of them climbing the tower on Oct. 20, the day the pumpkin was put up, with there only being photographs of them on the tower the night of Oct. 21.
The culprit said he felt “attacked” that the students who originally claimed responsibility for the prank did so, as he said climbing McGraw Tower with a 40-pound pumpkin was more difficult than climbing it without.
“I felt attacked that they would lie about it,” the culprit said. “Obviously, they did break in and get to the top which is a feat in itself. But doing it with a 40-pound pumpkin is a lot harder, and I know they didn’t do that.”
On Oct. 20, several Cornellians were notified of the pumpkin’s existence after a photograph taken at the top of the tower was posted to the social media app Sidechat. But the prankster denied that he posted the photograph online.
“No, I did not post it on Sidechat. I’m not even in there, but I have some connection with undergrads who saw it on my social media, screenshotted it and posted it,” said the anonymous prankster.
The culprit said he reached the top of the tower in a similar manner to the two students who claimed to have put the pumpkin on the tower.
“I put on some construction gear and just walked into the gate and then proceeded to climb the scaffolding, and just like the guys said in the previous interview, once you get halfway up, you just gotta scale it,” the culprit said. “I really like heights. So it wasn’t too nerve-wracking. The very tippy top was pretty scary because you can see everywhere and everyone can see you.”
“I was nervous that I’d be seen by a bunch of people because it was in broad daylight. That’s where the trash bag came in handy — it was the biggest trash bag I could find to fit the biggest pumpkin they grew at Indian Creek Farm.”
The culprit alleges the pumpkin came from the local Indian Creek Farm in Ithaca. They said that they instructed a friend who works at the farm to grow the biggest pumpkin possible, adding that this year’s pumpkin was about 40 pounds.
“I started my planning two months prior,” the culprit said. “I heard the 1997 [pumpkin] was about 50 pounds so I tried to match that, but Indian Creek didn’t grow a bigger one than [the one placed on the top of the tower].”
The culprit added that they wanted to carry out their plan on a Friday in mid-October in time for “the spooky season.”
“That prank from the ’90s — it was lore on campus forevermore, and it made national news, and I kinda wanted to get a little piece of that,” the prankster said. “I feel like this is kind of my legacy now. I wanted to see what it must have been like up there back then.”
The culprit — who is a member of the Class of 2016 and still works in the community — said they had always wondered whether McGraw Tower could be climbed, and called it “a pretty cool feeling” to be able to do so, with aid from scaffolding due to the ongoing construction on the clocktower.
“I obviously knew about the lore, being from Ithaca and hearing about it as an undergrad. I was part of the outdoor education department and was into climbing and was always wondering if it could be climbed,” the culprit said. “[It was like] being on top of the world sticking a pumpkin on a spire like that.”
Henry Fernandez ’27 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].