It played out just like the classic scene from the movie "A Christmas Story" — minus the triple-dog dare.
But it didn't happen just once. In the past two weeks, six curious kids at a Roseville elementary school learned the painful lesson of what happens when you stick your tongue to a frozen pole.
It hurts. A lot.
Just like the character Flick, the kids panicked when they realized they could not immediately pull their tongues free.
"You know how you see the movie and the kid is screaming and crying and stuck? That's kind of what it looks like here — they're trying to talk and cry and scream at the same time, because it kind of hurts," said Jen Wilson, principal of Emmet D. Williams Elementary School.
Luckily, teachers did not have to dial police or firefighters for help.
Some of the kids ripped their tongues away themselves; one even returned to the pole the next day to search for remains. The others stayed put until an adult brought them warm water.
"You just can't make this stuff up," Wilson said.
The rash of incidents — the most recent on Thursday morning — prompted Wilson to alert school staff. She considered an intercom announcement but settled for an e-mail to teachers, in which she asked them to tell their students about the age-old pitfall.
The adults who supervise recess and usher students onto buses after school have taken precautions to help any more hapless experimenters, carrying bottles of warm water whenever kids are outside.
Suffice to say, this is not what Wilson expected to be working on the week before winter break. Staff at the school of 450 students have never seen this happen so many times, she said.
"You watch the movie and it's like the triple-dog dare," Wilson said. "[But] that hasn't been the case either. A lot of times it's been … an independent student just testing it."
These stunts often extend beyond the schoolyard.
Hennepin EMS hears such calls every winter, said Mike LeVake, deputy chief of special operations. And the remedy is simple: Use warm water.
"You'd be amazed at the stuff we get called out on," LeVake said, quipping that "it's tough not to fall for it when somebody triple-dog dares you."
St. Paul Public Schools spokesman Kevin Burns said there have been no recent incidents in the district. But, he said, he understands the curiosity.
"As a youngster, I did it. I actually put my tongue on a metal shelf in my parents' freezer," Burns laughed. "That curiosity was satisfied immediately when I jerked my head back from the shelf and left part of it for everyone to see."
Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234 Twitter: @ryanfaircloth