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College Pranksters Change Hollywood Sign To ‘CALTECH’

May 18, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Whiz-kid pranksters from California Institute of Technology have apparently struck again, altering the famous ″Hollywood″ sign today to read ″CALTECH″ on a day Tinseltown celebrates its 100th anniversary.

″It’s very prominent. They did a good job,″ said police Sgt. Phil Agnell.

The hillside sign overlooking Hollywood was just the latest in a series of elaborate, creative pranks by students from the Pasadena university known for producing brilliant scientists.

In the past, they have switched the green and red lenses on city stoplights, fired Strawberry Jello from a historic cannon and rigged up a long-range launcher to lob oranges at Pasadena City College.

In 1983, Caltech students used their engineering wizardry to put prank messages on the Rose Bowl scoreboard.

A police helicopter on routine patrol discovered the ″CALTECH″ sign this morning, Agnell said.

A caller to The Associated Press, who identified himself only as a student named ″Calvin I. Techer,″ said a group of 35 people, mostly freshmen, worked from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. to redesign the sign with plastic sheets.

″Hollywood is celebrating its 100th anniversary today, so we decided a few weeks ago to do it,″ said the student, who refused to give his real name.

″Happy Birthday Hollywood,″ a three-hour television special tonight on ABC-TV, is a gala celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Hollywood. The show features James Stewart, Lana Turner, Charlton Heston and others.

Buck Buchanan, a Los Angeles radio personality who lives in the shadow of the landmark in the Hollywood Hills, said the new sign’s quality wasn’t that good.

″It looks like any other sign that doesn’t look like what it was supposed to say,″ he said.

Agnell said police got the license numbers of several of the students’ cars and they may face vandalism charges if the Hollywood sign was damaged.

″It’s an expensive toy,″ Agnell said.

Caltech is among the nation’s major research institutions, specializing in the physical and life sciences.

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