ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The U.S. Naval Academy's plebe class is preparing to climb the Herndon Monument.
About 1,000 first-year students will take part in this annual tradition Monday afternoon, scaling the 21-foot obelisk slathered with vegetable shortening.
Students form a human pyramid to help classmates climb the slippery monument. Their task will be to remove the hat known as the "dixie cup" from the top of the monument and replace it with a midshipmen's hat, marking the end of the plebe year.
Legend has it that the freshman who tops Herndon will be the first of the class to make admiral.
Plebes began climbing the monument in 1940 and the placement of the cap started seven years later. In 1949, upperclassmen began smearing lard on the monument to make the climb more challenging.