BY KRIS VERHAGE
Today, Cadillac High School is going to get a gift commemorating the long-ago visit by some very memorable guests.
As part of the reunion festivities planned by the Class of 1976, reunion organizers will present to the school a plaque marking KISS' visit to Cadillac during homecoming weekend in October 1975. The public is invited to a presentation set for 1 p.m. in the high school's “Hall of Fame” hallway, said Class of '76 member Harold Falan, who spearheaded the group's effort.
Although the American Bicentennial occurred weeks after graduation, the Class of '76 is best known as the “KISS Class,” and its gift reflects that famous visit. It's a 24-inch by 30-inch plaque featuring photos and other memorabilia from the visit.
Falan, a retired Michigan State Police trooper, said whenever he mentioned his hometown during his law enforcement career, someone always brought up the KISS visit. He brought the plaque idea to the reunion committee and Cadillac Area Public Schools Superintendent Paul Liabenow. Both the committee and Liabenow enthusiastically gave their approval.
Falan then had Spike Lawrence Inc. in Berkley craft the plaque.
“I think this gift is going to be a nice addition to this high school,” Liabenow said, adding the plaque will celebrate a moment in local history. “(The visit) put Cadillac High School on the map, if you will.”
Not only is the plaque meant to inform students and the community about KISS' visit, the reunion committee wanted to replace a plaque the band had given the school. It had been placed on a wall outside the principal's office and had disappeared within six months.
Over the years, there were rumors of who might have stolen the plaque, said Jim Neff, the assistant football coach and teacher who was instrumental in bringing KISS to town.
“It never surfaced,” he said. “That was kind of the odd thing.”
It's hard to speculate what might have happened to the original plaque. It would be difficult to sell today because KISS memorabilia collectors well-versed in Cadillac “KISSstory” are well aware the plaque is stolen, Neff said.