HARMONY, Maine — They met their challenge and he fulfilled his promise to pucker up.
Harmony Elementary School Principal Mike Tracy told his pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade pupils at the start of school he would kiss a pig if they raised $1,000 in pennies for the new playground.
When the children exceeded the goal by raising $1,027, Tracy on Wednesday completed his end of the bargain.
Dressed in coveralls, a straw hat and a bandanna, Tracy took his place next to a squealing, jittery pig that wasn’t overly enthused to have been taken from its pen.
“Hey, it’s not every day a principal would do this for you,” Tracy told the excited children, teachers and parents, who at times chanted, “Kiss the pig! Kiss the pig!”
Tracy quickly bent over and kissed the neck of the approximately 100-pound sow not once, but twice, much to the pleasure of the children. Each time, he jumped back, waved his hands in the air and uttered, “Ugh.”
“It’s a smell that I will never forget,” Tracy remarked afterward. Although it was neither to his liking — nor the pig’s, which squealed with all its might to avoid the affection — Tracy said he did it for the kids.
The 98 Harmony pupils were equally proud of Tracy. “Awesome!” exclaimed pupil Owen Booker. “It was cool,” pupil Emili Yoos said.
The money raised by the children will help the Parents Teachers for Kids, or PTK, organization fund a $20,000 playground at the school. The project, which is expected to be built this summer, will provide new and safe equipment such as slides and a climbing structure.
Lisa Rice, treasurer of the PTK, and Tracy McKenney, the club’s president, were pleased with the children’s contribution. Rice said the children raised $800 last year and for that, former Principal Gilbert Reynolds wore pink hair for the day.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work. This was huge for us,” McKenney said of the seven PTK members who have been raising funds for about two years to upgrade the 1960s playground. She said they have held bake sales, concerts and auctions.
The community has been supportive of the fundraising events, the women noted. In addition, C.J. Pease Construction Co., a local business, has offered to donate the ground work for the playground. Seeing the children help raise funds has been heart-warming, according to McKenney and Rice.
“These kids are so invested in this,” Tracy said. “I’m very proud of the kids for raising this money.”