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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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Stadium cannon absence causes controversy

FILE
FILE

Three games into the football season, the touchdowns are rolling in Kyle Field but the accompanying cannon-fire has been missing.
The traditional 76mm cannon, the Spirit of ’02, will not fire inside the stadium this year. Texas A&M officials cite safety concerns and the artillery’s absence has become a source of controversy among some who think it a compromise of tradition.
Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez, Corps of Cadets commandant, wrote in a Facebook post that there was discussion of playing a videotaped version of the cannon at the Rice game, but officials decided against it. Although there was no cannon fired Saturday, Ramirez said in the post that a live feed would be established by the next home game.
“Between now and the Ole Miss game on [Oct. 11], we will get the live feed worked from the Spirit of ’02 on the quad to the jumbotron in the stadium so that for all future home games we will get a live feed of the Spirit of ’02 firing after our team scores,” Ramirez said.
The Spirit of ’02 will be stationed with the Parson’s Mounted Cavalry at the Fiddlers Green for the remainder of the season.
A new 105mm howitzer will be stationed at the southeast corner of the stadium’s east plaza, which Ramirez said was always the intention. The cannon will not fire but will be available for photographs.
With the Kyle Field renovation still a year away from completion, Corps Commander David Trigg said it is important to support Texas A&M during the transition.
“I believe the student body needs to be more supportive and understanding of the administration’s position regarding the cannon,” Trigg said. “It is important to note that this is a transitional year for both Texas A&M and the development of Kyle Field. All plans, logistics and operations are temporary in nature based upon the redevelopment of Kyle Field. The student body and student leaders should recognize the culture and climate of this year and appreciate all the administration has accomplished by getting us Kyle Field for this season.”
Parks Walker, commanding officer of Parson’s Mounted Calvary, said the Spirit of ’02 will still be featured at other events despite the reconstruction committee’s decision not to include it in Kyle Field this season.
“We fire [The Spirit of ‘02] at every Midnight Yell, Corps step-off before football games and at many special events such as the Grand Opening of the new Equestrian Center and Ring Days,” Parks said. “We still practice horse-mounted artillery tactics with it and pull it to campus with a team of four horses on game days.”
Still, Walker said he and his fellow cadets want the cannon back for gamedays.
“Myself as well as the entire unit are extremely disappointed with the fact we have been relocated from Kyle Field,” Walker said.“The Spirit of ‘02 has been fired inside the stadium since 1982 and I feel that it should stay that way regardless of renovations being made.”
The cannon has a rich history on campus.
The Spirit of ‘02 was found by Aggies who were cutting trees for Student Bonfire in 1974. Students saw the top part of the wheels sticking out of the ground and dug it up. After restoring it, the cannon became an icon at games and other school events.
For Walker, the cannon is more than just an artillery piece — it’s a tribute to all Aggies who have fired it in combat.
But for students like Ryley Paroulek, cadet and aerospace engineering sophomore, the tradition goes beyond its historical significance.
“The history behind it is very interesting,” Paroulek said. “However, we want a cannon to fire after each score, not a historical relic.”
Although the cannon was fired on the practice field for the Lamar game, no cannon was fired Saturday against Rice University.
Some students, alumni and fans are advocating via social media, fliers and t-shirt campaigns for cannon fire in the stadium.
“The cannon is an integral part of the patchwork of traditions that make the Aggie game day experience,” Jacob Nolan, Class of 2010 said. “It is not a piece of furniture to be arbitrarily removed.”

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