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UNT bonfire lights up the night

UNT bonfire lights up the night

UNT bonfire lights up the night
October 27
13:54 2018

Even after a week of rainy days, the final pep rally of Homecoming week, featuring the annual bonfire built by the UNT Talons, was a success.

The long process of building the bonfire started at the beginning of April this year, where the search for pallet donors began, Talons president Sarina Davidson said. 

“It’s just a summer-long process of getting the logistics of how many pallets do we need, how do we want to build it, what are people’s strengths and weaknesses and little things like that,” Davidson said.

Senior biology major Codesia James is the Talons Bonfire Coordinator. She was a cheerleader in high school, so spirit is important to her.

“Spirit for me is an [absolutely] huge thing,” James said. “Spirit Day and the bonfire are the two more spirited events during the entire week in my personal opinion.”

First, Talons sit down with their team and understand the vision of the bonfire. Then they understand the role each person will play, and then they get started with creating ideas associated with each event.

“The bonfire is an extremely traditional event so I don’t necessarily have to start from complete scratch, but if there are any details I want to change or things that I want to bring along, I can do that,” James said. “I have the opportunity to do that.”

James also has to create the timeline of everything happening, contact multiple sponsors and vendors if necessary, locking down what types of promotional items that would be offered to the students this year — which were fanny packs and glow sticks for the bonfire. She also has to contact people for sound, lighting and stage setup.

“We really wanted to make sure students could actually use the promotional items this year,” James said. “[We wanted there to be] longevity and not just a one-time thing [where] you throw it away after that.”

The UNT Talons torchbearers light their torches before setting the homecoming bonfire ablaze. Will Baldwin

One of the biggest changes this year was moving the Yell Like Hell performances from the bonfire and keeping them on Thursday.

“We work with quite a few different parties,” James said. “We’re all coming together collectively to throw on this huge pep rally and huge event.”

A week before the bonfire burns, the 95 Talons members spend seven days a week with 24 hours of constant work building and watching the bonfire’s 4,500 pallets.

“It’s very exhausting, but it’s well worth it,” Davidson said.

The bonfire has been a tradition at UNT since 1935, and the responsibilities of the bonfire have been entrusted to the Talons since 1960.

The rainy weather played a key role in the difficulty in constructing the bonfire for Talons — something not even the seniors in Talons had experienced before.

“It’s really muddy out here,” Davidson said. “Everybody’s [wearing] rain boots, and they’re completely covered from toe-to-the-knee pretty much in mud. That makes building the bonfire a little bit more difficult this year just because you have to carry the pallet through the mud, hand them over to each other and then take them up on stacks, but then all of the pallets are all slippery and muddy.”

Even though the rain has posed difficulty to the Talons, the bonfire burned strongly — perhaps a symbol of how much care the Talons put into it. 

“I know [for] a lot of our Talons members we do what we do because we love it,” Davidson said. “We love being with each other and the friendships we make [in] this organization. The Talons does become your second family away from home. We’re not doing it for ourselves, so when we’re out there watching the bonfire burn, it’s a really cool feeling to know, ‘Hey, I did that.’”

Fireworks fill the sky as flames engulf the UNT homecoming bonfire. The homecoming bonfire has been a UNT tradition for over 50 years. Will Baldwin

Every difficult and stressful moment of coordinating the bonfire is worth it to James as well.

“That’s why [Talons is] worth it to me — the new people I get to interact with, the team building skills, and theteamworkk that I get to grow in,” James said.

Because Davidson is a senior, this is her last year helping to construct the bonfire. She has helped construct the bonfire all four of her years at UNT and light the fire for two years.

“It’s going to be a sad moment [watching the bonfire burn] because it’s all coming to an end — just college, life and everything, and really going into full adulthood,” Davidson said. “But it’s also going to be really awesome because we have a lot of new members this year, and it’s really fun to see how excited they are.”

UNT integrated studies senior Megan Pierson and technical communication senior Alex Schindler attended the bonfire together, and said they enjoy watching the flames.

“It’s cool to watch it slowly grow,” Pierson said. “[I like] the slow build of watching it progress with those little tiny fires, and by the time [it ends] it’s a huge, massive flame. It’s pretty cool.”

Part of what makes the bonfire so successful are the memories that it creates for everyone attending.

“One thing I don’t even think I can wrap my head around is how people will be there, how many memories were actually created today, and it’s not just me,” James said. “It’s the entire homecoming [and] student activity team all working together to put on such a huge event that does create those everlasting memories.”

Featured Image: UNT Students and alumni gather to show school spirit at the UNT homecoming bonfire. Will Baldwin

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Emily Olkkola

Emily Olkkola

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