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Simeon Stylites stepping down

Icon of Simeon Stylites the Elder. At the left, he is shown stepping down from his pillar in obedience to the monastic elders; at right he is shown again, standing atop his pillar, having passed the test of humility.

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


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

Flagpole-sitting was a fad from 1924 to 1929. The fad began when a friend dared stunt actor Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly to sit on a flagpole. 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 the enduring record. 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 brought him down. [2]

This fad eventually reached Shipwreck imitators when, in 1929, Baltimore had at least 17 boys and 3 girls sitting on 18 foot hickory poles while their family and friends cheered them on.


H. David Werder claims to have sat on a pole for 439 days, 11 hours, and six minutes in the early 1980s to protest against the price of gasoline.[3][4]

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 2 hours.[5]


Peter Spencer ascended to a small platform on a 100 meter wind monitoring tower, and has maintained a hunger strike since 1 December 2009. Peter is protesting recent changes to land clearing and water management regulation. [6]


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