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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘A spectacle for sure:’ Student Bonfire prepares for Burn Night

The+Stack+engulfed+in+flame+during+the+2017+Burn+Night.
Photo by Photo by Luke Henkhaus

The Stack engulfed in flame during the 2017 Burn Night.

This Friday night, a year’s worth of work will go up in flames.
Since 1907, Aggies have been gathering around a bonfire to celebrate the night before the Thanksgiving football game. This is the 15th year Bonfire Stack has been constructed off campus. Following the official end of Bonfire after the 1999 collapse, the non-university sponsored Student Bonfire organization began building the Stack and hosting Burn Night.
Burn will begin at 8:50 p.m. at the Stack site off of Old Hearne Road in Bryan.
Bonfire is built entirely by students in a project that lasts the entire semester and includes quite a few late nights. According to Junior Red Pot and biomedical science major Dylan Archer, the preparation work for Bonfire begins a year in advance to coordinate fundraising and planning for the year ahead. The cut season lasts two months, during which all the logs that will become the bonfire are cut down. The construction of the stack, also known as build, happens the month leading up to Burn Night.
“What people do when they come together is kind of magical,” Archer said. “Bonfire is an amalgamation of people building to escape class and work, get in shape, stay out of trouble and have good fun.”
Members of Student Bonfire spend a lot of time together working to finish on time and doing it all without the help of heavy machinery. Engineering junior Patrick Kelley, a Yellow Pot, enjoys the work and the friends he’s made during his time in bonfire.
“There is absolutely a community aspect,” Kelley said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. These people will go the extra mile for you. There’s always talk of the 12th Man, the person standing ready to go in when needed. I’ve never seen a group of people do that quite like Bonfire.”
Learning from the 1999 collapse, Student Bonfire uses different construction methods to ensure safety. Junior electrical engineering major Jordan Klepser, a Redpot, said he is confident in the current procedures of Bonfire.
“Now all logs touch the ground. In the old Bonfire, they would stack logs on top of each other, so they’d be wedged into the logs below them, creating outward pressure,” Klepser said. “That has been eliminated so we have the safest experience possible.”
With Burn Night approaching, participants are in the final stretch of construction and some workers stay at the Stack for entire overnight shifts from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to put on the finishing touches. Members of the community are welcome to visit the stack site even before it is ignited.
“There’s nowhere in this country, possibly in this world, that you see anything quite like what you see on Burn Night,” Kelley said. “It’s handmade, and it’s beautiful.”
Spectators of the Bonfire can arrive as early as noon on Friday and are encouraged to carpool. Admission is charged per vehicle. It is free until 4 p.m. and increases as burn time approaches.
“On burn night, there’s no work; you just get to watch it burn,” Archer said. “You never see a fire that big, especially man-made by students. It’s a spectacle for sure.”
More details about the event can be found at on the Student Bonfire website.

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