North Texas Daily

Talons hope to fire up Mean Green faithful

Talons hope to fire up Mean Green faithful

Talons hope to fire up Mean Green faithful
November 07
12:31 2013

Christina Ulsh / Senior Staff Writer 

The Homecoming bonfire building squad is facing a peculiar problem with this year’s bonfire stack.

“The biggest obstacle we have is lack of pallets,” said Joseph Bessner, co-head of bonfire committee and Talons treasurer.

Every year, UNT has a bonfire before the Homecoming game. At 8 p.m. on Friday students, alumni, faculty and fans will gather in a meadow on the west side of Apogee Stadium for the bonfire.

Talons, a UNT spirit, service and traditions organization, has been in charge of building and guarding the bonfire stack, made up of thousands of pallets, since 1960. The bonfire stack is 40 feet by 40 feet and is allowed by risk management to be 25 feet tall.

The bonfire is a tradition that rallies up spirit for UNT before the big game, said Ashley Carlisle, geography sophomore and Talons member.

“This will be a really, really big pep rally,” she said.

Student activities and the athletics department donated $3,000 for 2,000 pallets.

Peterbilt, Miller of Denton and other businesses around Denton donated the rest of the pallets, Bessner said.

Anonymous donors have dropped off pallets on site, and more are welcome to do so. Talons members are also searching around Denton for pallets to collect.

“Every bit helps at this point, since this year we’re about 1,000 pallets short,” Bessner said.

Talons’ building hours are from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and its watchdog hours are from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. From the start of the stack building to the bonfire lighting, there are always at least two people on site.

On Sunday, Talons had to stop building at 5 p.m. because there were not enough pallets. That evening the stack was 7 feet tall. By Tuesday evening, it was a foot taller, nearly completing the first tier.

“We’re coming along slowly but surely,” Bessner said.

Monday morning, 700 pallets were supposed to be dropped off, but the loaded 18-wheeler did not show up. It didn’t come on Tuesday either, Bessner said. When the truck did finally arrive at 5 p.m. Wednesday, it had to park off site, further complicating the issue. The Talons had to move the pallets using pick up trucks.

As a safety precaution, Talons is not allowed to build while it is raining. This has also put them behind schedule.

“Basically, I don’t think we’ll have enough time,” Bessner said.

The bonfire’s location, which is next to an active gas well, is not a problem, university spokesperson Kelley Reese said.

For years, the bonfire has been held within the same vicinity of where it is now. The gas well has been present and producing natural gas for the past 15 years, she said.

“There are sensors on site that alert of any leaks,” she said.

The Denton fire department will always be on site with one fire engine and one brush truck. Emergency management services, the university and the city all have emergency plans, she said.

As of Sunday, Bessner has put in 50 hours toward building and watching the stack. Each Talons member will have to put in 30 building hours and 10 night watch hours by the end of the week.

“At the end of the week, when we finally light the tower, it is such a bittersweet moment,” Bessner said.

While stress, labor and time are put into building the stack that will inevitably be burned down, Talons members enjoy the good times shared getting to know one another over preparations, he said.

“It’s about the bonding that happened, not the actual building,” Carlisle said.

Members of Talons add pallets to the bonfire pile Wednesday evening for the Homecoming festivities. Photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

Members of Talons add pallets to the bonfire pile Wednesday evening for the Homecoming festivities. Photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

Journalism freshman Paulina De Alva throws a piece of wood onto the no go zone. The no go zone is a pile of wood that the students have yet to build into pallets for the bonfire structure. Photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

Journalism freshman Paulina De Alva throws a piece of wood onto the no go zone. The no go zone is a pile of wood that the students have yet to build into pallets for the bonfire structure. Photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

Student workers next to the bonfire pile on Tuesday afternoon. The group has been building the bonfire since Sunday and they have been keeping a 24-hour watch on the structure. Photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

Student workers next to the bonfire pile on Tuesday afternoon. The group has been building the bonfire since Sunday and they have been keeping a 24-hour watch on the structure. Photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

Feature photo: Joe Bessner, treasurer of the UNT Talons stands on top of the pallets being used to make the bonfire structure for the homecoming festivities. Photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer 

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