Lake City High School freshmen needed fishing line to keep the wolf’s broken juniper-bough tail from falling between its legs.
But the students were able to repair the timber wolf homecoming float enough to get it into shape for Thursday night’s parade.
This after a group of seniors tried to have the beast, well, rubbed out.
“It’s nothing like it was,” said parent Patti Freeman, sighing.
As many as 35 adolescent commandos apparently crept into the Kootenai County fairgrounds and pulverized the underclassmen’s homecoming float where it was hiding in a shed Wednesday night.
One witness said the kids had painted their faces and were dressed head-to-toe in dark clothing.
While some parents and students found destruction of the traveling school mascot an amusing prank, parents of students who built it were horrified. The kids had put about 250 hours into it.
“It was vandalism, nothing less,” said parent Steve Shortridge, who has a ninth-grade daughter at Lake City. “I’m all for class rivalry, but this was just kids being destructive.”
About two dozen ninth-graders started on the float last weekend, dressing a 2-ton Ford truck with posters, wire, tree branches and waferboard. The front had been built into an elaborate 9-foot-by-12-foot wolf head, made from chicken wire and 15,000 napkins.
“It was magnificent, just awesome,” Freeman said. “It took a lot of work. They had to do the whole thing by hand.”
Throughout the week, however, a group of seniors had been promising ruin. Nervous ninth-graders hoped it was a joke. Just in case, student Tyler Chisholm suggested it be moved from his driveway to a safehouse: the fairgrounds. “We thought it would be OK,” Freeman said.
Sometime in the night, students crawled under a fence and pried open the shed covering the float. They ripped the handmade beast to pieces and made off with the head.
“Apparently this was tradition,” said fair manager Barb Renner, “but I always thought tradition was for fun stuff.”
Ninth-graders were angry, but not surprised. “I think it’s childish. Totally unacceptable,” said Colby Campbell. “Why do it? You’re just hurting your own school.”
School administrators let freshmen out of class Thursday to repair the damage before that evening’s homecoming parade. About 75 students helped rebuild the rolling predator.
But the last-minute cloth wolf head, with its gray floppy ears, was a disappointing substitute.
“We thought about trashing their float …,” said frustrated ninthgrader Marilyn King.
“… But we didn’t want to stoop to their level,” finished Nicole Pfau. “That’s their level of fun. Not ours.”
Police were called, but neither Renner nor school leaders wanted to press charges. It’s not known if the wolf hunters will be disciplined.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo