Usually Texas A&M University’s annual bonfire is held in November just before the t.u. football game. Since the tragedy in 1999 and the move to the SEC, things have changed. This year the weather forced a delay to January. Student Bonfire now a completely separate event without official University sanction. This was evident by the absence of the band. The Bonfire was much smaller but the spirit remains. The essence of Bonfire has been preserved.
Once key difference is the architecture of the stack. It is no longer a layer cake of multiple stacks of trees layered but a single bundle of tress. The layer cake design is preserved by using shorter trees on the outer rings. All tree are touching the ground. Inside the stack there are four poles attached with steel to form a strong rigging. Once doused in jet fuel this stack will burn all night.
The t.u. frat house (outhouse) on the center pole still features an Austin City limits sign but it has been spray painted with the word “Columbia”. Below the sign hangs a stuffed Tiger. These seem to be a reference to Mizzou that is there new November game opponent.
I have not been to a bonfire since 1991. By that standard this was merely a campfire. The result is a much more sane scaled event. Safety precautions we evident everywhere but did not change the feel. Even though the fire was not on campus I was still impressed with the atmosphere. I did not see drunken frat boys. I saw a very family friendly event. There were multiple generations of Aggies all coming together for a Yell Practice. The t-shirt and barbecue vendors helped with the feeling of small town community. There was a genuine sense of pride in our school. I’m glad that Bonfire has endured.