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"Flagpole sitter" redirects here. For the Harvey Danger song, see Flagpole Sitta. For the starter in a race, see pole position.

Pole-sitting is the practice of sitting on a pole for extended lengths of time, generally used as a test of endurance, as a fad. A small platform is often placed at the top of the pole.


Pole-sitting is related to the ancient ascetic discipline of Stylitism, or column-sitting. St Simeon Stylites the Elder (c. 388-459) of Antioch (now Turkey) was a column-sitter who sat on a column for 37 years.[1]

Flagpole-sitting was a fad in the early 20th century. The fad was begun by stunt actor and former sailor[2] Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly, who sat on a flagpole, either on a dare by a friend,[3] or as a publicity stunt.[2] Shipwreck's initial 1924 sit lasted 13 hours and 13 minutes. It soon became a fad with other contestants setting records of 12, 17 and 21 days. In 1929, Shipwreck decided to reclaim the title. He sat on a flagpole for 49 days in Atlantic City, New Jersey, setting a new record.[4] The following year, 1930, his record was broken by Bill Penfield in Strawberry Point, Iowa who sat on a flag pole for 51 days and 20 hours, until a thunderstorm forced him down. From 1933 to 1963 Richard "Dixie" Blandy claimed various records as champion at 77, 78 and 125 days until he died in 1974 when his pole was snapped in half at the Dixie Square Mall.[5] For the most part, pole sitting died out after 1929, with the onset of the Depression.[6]


Peter Spencer spent 52 days suspended on a platform 15 metres (49 ft) above ground level, maintaining a hunger strike protesting changes to land clearing and water management regulation.[7]


H. David Werder sat on a pole for 439 days, 11 hours, and 6 minutes from November 1982 to 21 January 1984 to protest against the price of gasoline.[8][9] Daniel Baraniuk, from Gdańsk, Poland, sat on a 16-by-24-inch platform on an 8-foot pole for 196 days from May 15, 2002 to November 26, 2002. He had a ten minute break every two hours.[10]

Peggy (Townsend) Clark held the record from 1964 till 1989 with a record holding 217 days sitting on a pole in Gadsden, Al.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Simeon Stylites the Elder". Newadvent.org. 1912-02-01. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  2. ^ a b Baker, Danny. "Shipwreck for ever in pole position." The Times (United Kingdom) 21 Aug. 2002: Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 22 Dec. 2011.
  3. ^ Long, Mark A., and Jim Fee. Bad Fads. Toronto: ECW, 2002. p. 17 Ebrary. Web. 22 Dec. 2011.
  4. ^ "Atlantic City's Historic Steel Pier at Trump Taj Mahal Hits the Auction Block on August 25th." PR Newswire US. 29 June 2011: Regional Business News. Web. 22 Dec. 2011.
  5. ^ Dixie Blandy Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University
  6. ^ Flagpole Sitting - The Bad Fads Museum at the Wayback Machine (archived October 4, 2007)
  7. ^ "Peter Spencer protests". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-12-07. Retrieved 2012-01-11. 
  8. ^ "They Run For Office And Lose—Again And Again | Washington Bureau". Mgwashington.com. 2008-05-02. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  9. ^ "The most unusual name on the 2008 ballot". Bay Buzz. 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  10. ^ "Useless Fact: World Pole-Sitting Record Set". Distant.ca. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  11. ^ Goodson, Mike. "Pole-sittin' Peggy". The Gadsden Times. Retrieved 12 April 2012.