Rockets found attached to the scoreboard of the Yale Bowl before the annual Harvard-Yale football game Nov. 22 have prompted an investigation by police and federal agents.
Authorities discovered a “pyrotechnic device with a banner that would have unfurled” on the scoreboard of the stadium, New Haven police spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester said in an e-mail. The discovery delayed the opening of the Yale Bowl for the Game and caused police to close off nearby streets for several hours.
An employee of the Yale Bowl first noticed the device at about 7:45 a.m, Winchester said. Police then searched the stadium. At about 11 a.m., the Yale Bowl was opened for the game and Chapel Street and Central, Derby and Yale avenues — which had been closed by police for security concerns — were reopened. The football game began approximately on time.
When unfurled, the banner was to say, “No School on Monday,” Mark Lee ’04, the drum major for the Yale Precision Marching Band, or YPMB, said. The statement refers to the fact that Harvard students had class the week following the game, while Thanksgiving break at Yale began the previous Friday.
Lee said the band’s frequent use of similar statements to the one on the banner during their halftime show drew the attention of the FBI and police. Members of the YPMB were asked to give their names, post office box numbers and campus addresses to the FBI and Secret Service, he said.
Lee said the YPMB had no involvement in the planned prank, and the band is taking the investigation in stride.
“I can kind of sympathize with [investigators] because the president’s daughter was there and if they snuck that device in, they could have snuck something else in,” Lee said. “But suspecting us, I mean, come on. We’re the band. And while we may be crazy, we’re not that crazy.”
A group of Secret Service agents are assigned to protect Barbara Bush ’04, the daughter of U.S. president George W. Bush ’68. Sean Gallagher, resident agent in charge of the Connecticut office of the Secret Service said the office did not play a major role in the investigation and he was not aware of receiving the names of the YPMB members.
Lee said the taunt “School on Monday,” instead of “No School on Monday,” was the cheer used by the YPMB in its shows.
As a result of the incident, Lee said, the band decided to cancel a part of its show that included explosives. A cardboard cutout meant to represent a Harvard building was supposed to explode in the show.
Lee said he has not been contacted by any investigators since giving them his name.
FBI spokeswoman Lisa Bull confirmed that agents responded to the incident but declined to comment further about the case.
“Once an inquiry has begun, we’re really not allowed to give any information on that,” Bull said.
Students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have a tradition of playing pranks during the Harvard-Yale game, but it is unclear if MIT students were involved in the incident this year.
Winchester said the investigation of the incident is ongoing.
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