PENDLETON - An American icon and a venerable cartoon character will get an image update this weekend thanks to the Pendleton High School junior class.

The school's annual Sadie Hawkins Dance will be held from 8-11 p.m. Saturday in the Let 'er Buck Room. And while some of the traditions will stay the same, there is going to one big change.

The theme of this year's dance is "Gangsta Lovin'" with appropriate dress and decoration changes being made along the way. The picture wall will no longer feature a pastoral backdrop but will be a brick wall covered with graffiti.

"We wanted something fun and different," said Nicole Jones.

Jones, a junior at Pendleton High School, is one of more than a dozen girls serving on the Dance Committee for the annual event that honors the Al Capp cartoon character known for her aggressive behavior in search of a husband.

The dance will still maintain the tradition of girls inviting boys as well as being responsible for the expenses of the evening, which is one of the biggest attractions for the boys, several of the girls on the Dance Committee said.

"It's the best dance of the school year; everybody looks forward to it," said Linnea Adams. One of the reasons it is so anticipated is because it is a much less formal occasion than other dances held throughout the school year, and therefore a much more relaxed affair.

"You don't have to get your hair done, you just pull it up into a ponytail and go," said Jones.

But the dance does take a little thought on the part of the girls, because in Pendleton they are not only responsible for feeding their dates (something that is usually accomplished by large groups gathering at one of the student's homes, where all the girls band together to cook a meal) and buying their tickets, but also for supplying them with a shirt.

"It's the girls ask the guys and they wear matching shirts," Jones said.

Each year some of the girls will sew the matching shirts themselves, but most plan to buy the shirts they will wear to the event. If couples decide that they don't want to wear clothes in keeping with the theme, that's fine, the committee said.

"It's not a dance you have to be prepared for," Jones said. "You can dress as you want, in theme or not."

Sadie Hawkins history

Sadie Hawkins "the homeliest gal in the hills" in Al Capp's long running cartoon strip Li'l Abner became a national icon on Nov. 15, 1937. It was on that date that Capp told the story of the first Sadie Hawkins day, declared by Sadie's father, Hekzebiah.

The original day centered around a foot race in which the town's spinsters chased the bachelors, with the end result being matrimony. By the late 1930s the event had transformed itself into dances held in November that allowed girls to ask the boys out on a date or to the dance.

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