The Poly P (Cont.)
Eventually the maintenance of the "P" was determined an athletic contest between the freshman and sophomore classes. The Freshman-Sophomore Brawl featured a tug of war, greased pole climbs, three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, and other tests of skill and endurance. As the school grew, the Rally Club, a spirit organization, inherited the maintenance and added light to the P for their rallies the day before a football game, dragging a generator up the steep slope. If Poly won the game, the lighted P was replaced with a V for victory.
The original rock-and-lime configuration changed over the years, including a period when the Block P Club used white-washed barn doors to form the letter. An enlarged concrete P was finished on May 3, 1957, by Delta Sigma Phi, using supplies donated by local businesses and tractors driven by agricultural engineering majors. This 50-by-35 foot P still overlooks the campus today.
Decorating the P to spell out messages — even proposals of marriage — is a long-standing campus tradition, often reflecting the temper of the times. In 1964, the P was modified to GOP, in the 1970s POT appeared, and in the 1980s an ambitious group spelled out SPRINGSTEEN. The P is also frequently altered to the names of fraternities, sororities and campus clubs, with white bed sheets twisted into letters as the favorite temporary means of expression.
In 1994, the Running Thunder spirit organization assumed both the care of the P and its lighting for games. Four years later, Running Thunder and the local Sierra Club group blazed a trail to the P, which is accessible behind the residence halls. Thanks to cooperative efforts such as these, the P on the hill still stands for Poly.