Battle of the Bridge Legacy Lives On

Taken+from+the+1995+Highland+Yearbook.

Taken from the 1995 Highland Yearbook.

Breanna Burbridge, Social Media Editor

If you never attended Highland or Munster High School, you may not understand what the battle of the bridge entails. A territorial battle between the two rival high schools has been fought every year through the confines of a game of football since the early 1980s.

Battle of the Bridge has been around for over three decades although it wasn’t always metaphorical. Back in the day, the students from the school that had won the annual football game were “allowed” to paint the Wicker Park bridge. Allowed is a loose word; alumni from each school recall the activity differently.

 

Munster student section circa 1987. Taken from the Munster yearbook.


Avery Hanson, a 1993 graduate from Highland,said, “It was intense.  Everyone went.  Everyone got dressed in school colors, and when I was in high school, we were ‘allowed’ to paint the bridge when we won and had bragging rights for the rest of the year. As long as we only painted the bridge and nothing else around the police kind of ‘let us’.  “

“Kids from both schools painted the bridge [representing their school],” said Kristen Wilson, a 1991 alum. “Since we grew up without social media, we would have to wait until the stories started to circulate, telling how the kids managed to do the painting without getting caught.”

Tony Pineiro, a 1995 graduate, said, “The battle of the bridge was the biggest thing of the year.”

“They stopped allowing the winning school to paint the bridge,” said Munster graduate John Melby (‘95). “[It] lost its luster when I was in school.”

The motivation for this rivalry, Cindy Persic, 1988 alum from Munster said, ““As a kid in Munster, we HATED highland. It was a distinct hate.”

 

Persic second from the left on the top row in a Munster Volleyball picture from 1986.

 

“I’m sure everyone there was perfectly nice, but when it comes to extracurriculars I wanted to beat them every single time,” Hansen said about the Mustangs.

Wilson said, “Munster thought they were better than Highland in everything.”

“Beating Munster was the only thing we cared about, it didn’t matter what sport was being played,” Tony said.

 

Avery Hanson in High School circa 1993

 

In stating how important it was to beat the opposite school the alumni responded,

“It was the most important.  Still is. Having kids who also attended HHS, my favorite saying is always the only thing better than a win is a win against Munster.  I’ll take every one we can get.  Go Trojans!” Wilson said.

Robert Gonzales, a 1994 graduate and former football player for Munster said, “ It was everything, you could lose your whole season if you beat Highland.”

“That was more important than winning homecoming. We had a big pep rally before and everybody went to the game. Like everybody,” Persic said about the Munster Spirit during the battle of the bridge week.

Tony says, “Now as an adult it doesn’t matter what happens in Munster I just care about the town I live in.”

Tony Pineiro in his senior class photo.

 

In stating if they participated in the painting of the bridge Wilson said, “No. I never took part in the painting. It was fun to drive over the bridge to see which school did more painting and what they actually painted.”

“I may or may not have been there a few times in my 4 years. I’m thankful there were no cell phones or social media,” Hanson said.

”I remember one year painting the bridge and the police from both towns were set up on the sides of the bridge and let us paint the bridge,” Tony Pineiro said.

All of these alumni have had kids that have attended Highland High school regardless if they went to Munster.

When asked how she felt about being a Munster alum and having her children attend her previous rival school, Persic said, “Honestly I am grateful my kids go to highland. There’s more diversity, focus on students, and a very strong sense of community.”

As a Highland alum, Wilson said, “I love that my kids graduated from/are going to Highland. (Lindsey graduated in 2018 and Lauren will graduate next year.) In a way, it almost makes me feel more connected when they talk about something at school. I can picture things as if I was.”

“I lived in Munster until I was 10. I found Highland kids to be much more accepting and easy to get along with,” Michelle Pineiro, a 1995 graduate from Highland said. “My first open house [as a parent] was kind of weird. Seeing how much had changed and what has stayed the same. I have wonderful lifelong friends that I met at Highland High School, as well as my husband. We are proud to have a second generation going to Highland High School. Go Trojans!”

 

High school sweethearts, Tony and Michelle Pineiro, at Meadows Park in Highland during their high school years.