Agree with it or not, you can not argue that the annual A&M Bonfire is a tradition unlike any other in the world. Not built out of twigs or palettes or scraps, the Aggie Bonfire is built by students from trees lumbered and transported by students and is a project that runs practically all through the fall semester. Traditionally, the Bonfire is lit before the annual "game" with t.u. (can it really be called just a game? LOL) at an amazingly huge Yell Practice. Tradition has it that if Bonfire stands past midnight, the Aggies will beat the ever lovin' hell out of the Longhorns.
I can't even begin to tell you all the traditions behind the building of Bonfire. Basically, the "red pots" are the seniors that supervise, the "brown pots"...well I kind of look at them as the foremen. There were also "pink pots" taking care of the refreshments.... of course all this referred to the hard hats you had to wear. All of the wood used is chopped down by hand and loaded into trucks by hand from the cut site, which is typically land the power company donates for A&M's use. Of course the disclaimer is that the trees used are not suitable for lumber or other uses :-)
As the logs start rolling in... no pun intended, they are sorted by size and laid out near the stack site, which is now on the NE corner of campus. I may get corrected on this, but the largest logs are saved for the bottom tier and usually have the organization's name that cut it carved on the side, whether it be a corps unit, residence hall, etc.
And of course, this all culminates with the topping on the cake... I mean fire... "The t.u. frat house" which is a burnt orange outhouse with an effigy of Bevo (their mascot) inside and an "Austin City Limits" sign on top of all that mess. Strange additions, I know, but somehow someday in the glory days of Bonfires, the outhouse and the city limits sign used to be "appropriated" by corps members... now of course they are legally acquired :-)
But as many of you may know, in November of 1999, the Bonfire collapsed, killing 12 students. It has been suspended since then, and is currently scheduled to resume in 2002, pending a "re-engineering" of the process to insure the safety of everyone involved. If you have never been a part of the A&M community or been around Bonfire, you may have a hard time imagining the sense of loss - just as we can only imagine the sense of loss the victims' families live with now. The coming together during this time amazed me, as well as the compassion shown across the state, even by the teasippers on the eve of our most bitter storied rivalry game.
Yell Practice for the t.u. game in 1999 was quite a bit more somber than usual....
But hopefully soon, we can get things ironed out and have Bonfire restored to active duty... I have heard all kinds of rumors regarding how it will be reduced in size, or students will be taken out of the construction aspect, but even a smaller Bonfire will be an extraordinary sight that shouldn't be missed if you have the chance to see it!