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Painting class numbers on Fallbrook CA water tower

Water Tower Graffiti: If you can’t beat ’em join ’em

Painting class numbers on Fallbrook CA water tower

Work begins to drop the zero and add the one. Photo by Tom Pfingsten for the North County Times

Why can’t we all just get along? Rather than stir up conflict with naturally-rambunctious teens, perhaps more authorities should take a cue from Fallbrook, California. There, for more than three decades, the Fallbrook water utility has avoided trouble with potential teen water-tower defacers in what has become an annual ritual, painting the numbers of the current high school graduating class on the Rattlesnake Water Tower. (Sidenote, the tower was supposedly named in honor of the hundreds of rattlesnakes discovered as it was built.)

The annual tradition is rooted in a bit of youth mayhem that began 1974, according to this Fallbrook Trivia page:

One night in June of 1974, members of the senior class snuck up to the water tower and painted a big “74” on it. Shortly thereafter it was painted over by water district. Not to be outdone, the class of ’75 took their turn at the water tank the following year. To the chagrin of the water district, it became a tradition for all graduating classes to paint the year of their class on the tank.

It was a hassle and I’m sure, more than a little expense for the water district to keep painting over the “Graffiti” every year. Eventually, they gave in and just began painting the number of the next graduating class themselves. A tradition that continues today.

Fallbrook Class of 2011, your time has come at last! From a story in nctimes.com, as this school year begins the zero has now been changed to a 1:

Compared to previous years, like the turn of the century in 2000, when two nines became two zeroes, Tuesday’s assignment was easy —- the district only had to convert the second digit, a zero, into a one.

In an interesting side story, the organizers of the Class of 1989 10th Reunion pulled off a spectacular nostaligia-fest for classmates by repainting the tower in their class numbers just for their reunion weekend. Now that’s a superb party decoration! Photos of the entire merry process can be viewed here.

Water Tower Before and After: Making the memories real for the Class of 1989 Ten Year Reunion