Cornell Halloween Legend

“So, um, there’s a legend that, and I’m pretty sure it’s true, that one time on Halloween, the Engineers, it might not actually be the Engineers, I don’t know who did it, but I think it’s the Engineers because they’re the only ones smart enough to actually do something like this… one Halloween, they got a huge pumpkin on the top of the clock tower and no one really knows how they did it because the clock tower is pointy and really tall and has one hundred and sixty-one stairs. And so now, every year for Halloween, as tribute to that, Cornell lights the face of the clock tower orange and makes it look like a jack o’lantern… like makes a jack o’lantern face in it. I’ve heard the story from Orientation Leaders. I don’t remember if they said it was Engineers, but I think it is.”


The informant was very adamant that the group of students who supposedly pulled off this prank consisted of Engineers. Her tone was very insistent. This makes sense because she is an Engineering student. Her version of the legend reflects how highly she thinks of her own major at Cornell. It’s interesting how the school has turned this prank (or legend of a prank) into a folk tradition by lighting up the clock tower every year to look like a jack o’lantern. The school seems to greatly value the prank or (legend of the prank) and thus feels the need to keep this story alive through this annual, symbolic practice.