Published: Sunday, August 29, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
In the early hours of November 18, 1907, a group of Aggies celebrated an A&M football victory by burning a pile of wood and garbage near the train station. Two years later, Bonfire burned on campus for the first time. Over the decades, Aggies became increasingly ambitious with the construction of the Stack, even reaching 109 feet in height in 1969 before the University decided they would not allow it to be more than 55 feet tall.
"It was kind of a unifying factor on campus for students from all different organizations. Even if people didn't build it, they went to watch it. There would be 70,000 people at Burn said, Nathan Coffman, senior redpot with Student Bonfire and civil engineering major.
On November 18, 1999, Bonfire fell, killing 12 Aggies. These lost Aggies are remembered each year with a memorial week and service at 2:24 a.m. each year on the anniversary of the collapse. The loss is permanently commemorated with the Bonfire Memorial on campus, which features a dozen "portals" inscribed with personalized messages from the Aggies' family and close friends.
"The memorial, for me, it shows a greater sacrifice. No matter how bad it is, it could always be worse," said Michael Espericueta, outreach awareness sub-chairman for Traditions Council and senior economics major.
Although Aggie Bonfire is no longer endorsed by the University, some students continue on the tradition off campus each year with Student Bonfire.
"I'm from Virginia, so coming here, I didn't really know anyone, so I went out to Cut. You do manual labor with these people, so if nothing else, you have that in common," Coffman said.
He said students interested in getting involved with Bonfire can find contact information for the different on and off campus crews on studentbonfire.com.
All students are invited to Bonfire Burn, which is held the week before the annual football game against the University of Texas.
"Bonfire still burns in every Aggie's heart," Teer said.