12-year-old Maddie Gilmartin never saw the classic flagpole scene in the holiday movie, A Christmas Story, which may have contributed to the quandary she found herself in recently. Young Maddie was helping her father during a snowstorm in East Kingston, New Hampshire when she suddenly got an idea she would later regret. The girl explained to WMUR ABC 9, "It just kind of popped into my head, 'Hey what would happen if I stuck my tongue to a flag pole?' And at the moment, I was like, ‘Oh it will come right off." But if Hollywood has taught us anything about science, we all know that the sixth grader’s instinct was wrong. So she was tethered there. "I was just like, did I really just do that to myself, like did I really just do that?"
Her mother, Tracy, was inside the house and her father, Shawn, was plowing snow far down their driveway. Maddie panicked, "I'm stuck here in the middle of our yard just trying to get help." At one point Tracy saw her Maddie’s arms flapping but she thought the girl was just playing. Shawn Gilmartin recalled, “I see her standing at the flag pole, her arms are waving and I'm not sure what's going on until I got closer."
The 12-year-old tried to pull herself free which caused her to bleed. When Mr. Gilmartin made his way to his daughter, he tried to use the warmth of his breath to free her, but that didn’t work. The parents called 911 and while the three waited for EMS to arrive, they were able to use warm water and loosen Maddie’s tongue from the flagpole.
The 15 minutes that her tongue was frozen to the flagpole and trying to pull away from it, caused pain to her lips and tongue that Maddie likened to numerous bee stings. She’s doing ok and doctors say that her swelling will eventually subside after six weeks.
With a teasing chuckle, Maddie’s dad said, “She found out the hard way, and we all do things in life that we might regret.” But Maddie said she learned a valuable lesson: “Just think before you do something.”