'74 Fitch grad talks about the prank that started a lasting tradition at Falcon Stadium
Friday night, the Austintown Fitch football game against Akron St. Vincent St. Mary was the last for the home bleachers at Greenwood Chevrolet Falcon Stadium. It was a location that served up a wide range of memories for generations over the past 50 years.
Those memories will give way to new ones though because the bleachers will soon get torn down and replaced with new stands.
One of the cool traditions with those bleachers was that every year, the school painted on the yearly numbers for the graduating class.
It's a tradition that dates back more than four decades but did you know it actually started in 1974, as a senior prank?
"Our plan was to paint the stadium, just put our 74 on the stadium the night before graduation," Marcia Gamble Sturdevant said.
A plan that Marcia Gamble Sturdevant, Linda Kidd and two other girls pulled off without a hitch.
"There was a whole group of us, girls and boys and we were going to meet at the Burger King and then head over around midnight," Marcia said. "The mastermind, Linda Kidd, she decided no, there is too many, it will go wrong so just the four of us met and we came down about 11 o'clock. We parked over on Burkey Road and jumped the fence with our one-gallon paint can and we crawled through and it was pitch black and somehow Linda had figured out exactly which bleachers and all we did was paint the edges of them and we got in and out about a half hour got it all painted."
Sturdevant said when they were done, the rest of the group showed up, but they hid and left. The next day, they were a little nervous.
"We were all nervous and scared cuz we weren't sure if we were going to graduate if we were going to get caught or not but we didn't get caught and graduation went on and ever since then it's been a tradition and nothing we expected," Marcia said.
It went on for a few more years as a prank, sometimes between the Senior and Junior classes, but eventually the school decided to hire professionals to do the painting and they moved it to before the season started.
Marcia says she's proud to have started such a lasting legacy.
"We didn't realize what we were doing at the time but you know, that's what my daughter told me, you gotta fess up, you gotta admit what did you here and take claim to this," Marcia said. "It's pretty cool, I hope it continues, I hope with the new stadium, it will continue."
Austintown Superintendent Dave Cappuzzello says the tradition will continue with the new stands, but only the last two numbers, instead of all four.