Naval Academy students cap Herndon Monument in annual climb

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The U.S. Naval Academy's plebe class capped the Herndon Monument in its annual climb on Monday.

About 1,000 first-year students took part in the annual tradition in which they capped the 21-foot obelisk slathered with vegetable shortening with a midshipman's hat.

The students formed a human pyramid to help their classmates climb the slippery monument and replace the hat known as the "dixie cup" from the top of the monument with a midshipman's hat, marking the end of their plebe year.

MIDN 4th class Peter Rossi of Phoenix capped the Herndon Monument at 2 hours 9 minutes and 35 seconds.

Last year's class accomplished the feat in exactly 2 hours, 21 minutes, and 21 seconds while the previous class completed it in 1 hour, 12 minutes and 30 seconds.

Plebes began climbing the monument in 1940. The placement of the cap started seven years later. In 1949, upperclassmen began smearing lard on the monument to make the climb more challenging.

Prior to the start of this year's climb, the plebes conducted their annual Herndon shoe drive and collected 560 pairs of shoes that will go to two DC homeless shelters.

he Associated Press contributed to this report.