The Greatest College Prank Ever Pulled

It's been called the greatest college prank ever pulled: in 1961 Rose Bowl, a team of Caltech students altered the University of Washington's halftime flip-card routine so it'd spell out "CALTECH."

Here's how they did it, as told by the mastermind of the stunt (a then 19-year old student) Lyn Hardy:

"There was a lot of luck involved," the retired engineer says during an interview at his home in Torrance. "From a maturity of age looking back, what were the chances of pulling that thing off? I'd say zip. But you don't know that when you're 19."

Hardy, after learning that the Washington band and cheerleaders were staying in dormitories at Long Beach State, showed up posing as a reporter for the Dorsey High student newspaper. (Hardy, a Caltech junior at the time, was a Dorsey graduate.)

The cheerleaders, who organized the flip-card routine, willingly shared the technical details of how it worked.

"Three very nice guys . . . talked me through the whole thing, showed me where they kept everything," Hardy says.

Later, when the cheerleaders left for dinner, Hardy and another of Caltech's so-called "Fiendish 14" broke into their room by picking the lock. Lifting a card-stunt instruction card, they took it back to Pasadena and had some 2,400 copies made.

Early on New Year's Eve, while the cheerleaders were at Disneyland, Hardy's group broke into their dorm room again, this time "borrowing" the master instructions.

Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times has the story: Link (Photo: Wally Skalij)

Previously on Neatorama: Seven
College Pranks


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