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Rescued and restored, new Spirit Siren at Mount Si stadium links players, fans and history
Friday night action at Wildcat Stadium gets louder and brighter this fall, thanks to a project that links the local high school, police chief, North Bend mayor, businesses and football boosters, players and coaches.
A group of volunteers, led by Snoqualmie Police Chief and Wildcat parent Steve McCulley, took the siren from the former, now-empty Fire Station 87 in North Bend to power up the scoreboard at Mount Si High School.
Now, at home games, every time the home team scores, the 70-year-old siren will whoop and a restored fire-truck light will flash.
“Kids love loud noises,” said Mount Si head coach Charlie Kinnune. “I love it because it’s a piece of history.”
It was McCulley who had the bright idea to take the 1940s-era siren down from the vacated station at North Bend City Hall, and give it new life at the high school.
His vision gelled with that of the Wildcat Booster Club, and McCulley found plenty of allies in the project—from North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing, who agreed to hand off city property for a $1-a-year lease, to Bill Kramer at The Welding Shop in North Bend, Jerry Moe at Alpine Coach Works in Snoqualmie, and JR Still at Powder Vision in Preston, who refurbished the alarm for free.
An avid Washington State University alum, McCulley is half-ashamed to admit that he was inspired by the air-raid sirens used at University of Washington games. A light came on when he realized North Bend had just such a siren, sitting unused.
When he took his “crazy” idea to Jeff Mitchell, head of the boosters, Mitchell told him “I love it. Let’s do it.”
The siren, the size of a wastebasket but much heavier, once rang out to summon volunteers to fires and accidents. It last rang for a call in 1994.
When Captain Mark Ashburn and Lt. Bob Venera went up to the roof earlier this year to unbolt the siren, it took a bit of work to loosen it.
“When we went to lift the thing, we had no idea of the weight!” said Ashburn, who estimated that the cast-iron siren weighed 150 pounds. The fire crew had to rig up a block and tackle to get it down. “It’s built to last,” said Ashburn.
‘Air Raid’ is slogan
“Air Raid” is the slogan for Mount Si football this year, selected long before the siren came about, based on the team’s strong passing game. The siren is a fortuitous bonus.
“Our excitement and interest are always focused around game night,” Mitchell said. “What are things we can do to enhance the experience for our community, and for the players?”
This year, the boosters paid for new gray uniforms for the boys.
“These guys work hard, and there should be perks to being a Wildcat football player,” Mitchell said. “We want our players to look sharp when they’re on the field. They should be proud of representing the school.”
Mitchell had had his own conversations with head coach Charlie Kinnune about a siren, or something like Bothell High School’s “Blue Train” horn at Pop Keeney Field.
“Next thing I know, Steve has an idea!” he said.
The Mount Si Football Boosters paid about $280 for a vintage fire light from an Arizona restorer. Flipped on by a minder in the announcer’s booth, the siren and light sound for each Mount Si touchdown and field goal. An extra point gets a flashing light. A metal baffle deflects sound and light from neighboring houses.
McCulley founded a Mount Si Wildcat Football Spirit Siren Foundation and arranged the lease through Mayor Hearing.
Carl Larson, Snoqualmie Valley School Facilities Director, arranged for the bulky siren to be installed through the work of facilities staff and the school metalshop.
The siren was rigged up for this spring’s Mount Si High School graduation. It was ready for Mount Si’s Sept. 6 football game, and it will ring again at this Friday’s home game.
“Now, it’s up to these guys to make sure the siren goes off,” McCulley tells Mount Si football players Bailey Takacs, Jack Nordby and Brad Christensen, who’ve come to the interview to represent their team.
“We love the siren,” says Nordby, a junior lineman. The energy of the crowd is important to this team, and the siren adds to that, says Takacs.
“It’s mixing old and new,” said Kinnune. “It makes us a little different from anybody else.”
Mounting the siren on the scoreboard at Mount Si, Ken Rambow, part of the district maintenance staff, was the one that built the baffle that protects neighbors.
Bill Kramer at The Welding Shop in North Bend, Jerry Moe at Alpine Coach Works in Snoqualmie, and JR Still at Powder Vision in Preston, gave the alarm a full restoration and coat of paint for free.
The siren as it looked after it was hauled down from the North Bend fire hall after a 60-plus-year career, calling out emergencies.