UMBC’s annual Homecoming Bonfire
The annual Homecoming Bonfire has been a UMBC tradition since 2005. Save for one incident in 2012 in which firefighters had to intervene, the bonfire has been a relative success.
On a brisk evening in October, clouds of smoke filled the air. Students were gathered around in a large circle on Erickson Field. Their eyes glistened at the sight of red and orange flames coming from the towering bonfire in front of them.
Quickly the crowd, who at first were fairly close to the bonfire, moved swiftly back as the blaze expanded and spread across the grass. Students ran back in multiple directions. The fire department advanced onto the field and tamed the flames right away. This evening was the bonfire two years ago.
This year, UMBC will be holding their 10th annual Homecoming Bonfire on Erickson Field on Oct. 8 from 6-9 p.m. By teaming up with Arbutus and Landsdowne fire departments, the college endeavors to keep the event as safe of an environment for all their guests as possible.
Bonfires are a common college tradition all over the United States. At Dartmouth, for example, students build an enormous bonfire and dance around the fire in their pajamas. At this college, a common dare is to have students try to touch the fire.
Due to unruly behavior such as at Dartmouth, some colleges have had to cancel their events to help maintain safety.
Luckily, UMBC has only witnessed one incident in its decade of bonfires where the fire got out of control, which was caused by serious winds. Other years, the event has had to be canceled due to rain and other weather related circumstances.
UMBC has managed to prevent safety incidents from happening. Erickson Field is monitored well by campus police and the local fire department. Katelyn Seale, a junior biochemistry major and an event programmer of the Student Events Board, said “we usually always have to get the okay from the local fire marshall before hosting such an event.”
Other than the 2012 mishap, the occasion has been a success with many students — both commuters and campus residents. Many students, especially those who live on campus or have evening classes, come to the event.
In 2004, student life member Thomas Locastro proposed the idea to start the homecoming bonfire tradition. The first bonfire took place in Oct. 2005, and it has stuck ever since.
The event is a great way to get everyone to come together and share school spirit.
Students gather around the inferno, taking pictures and dancing to top 40 hits while also chatting and laughing with their friends.
Along with the bonfire ceremony, students can indulge in buffalo wings provided by the popular restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings. For the past two years, the Student Events Board has also included falafel as a vegetarian option. Seale said, “[the falafel] were quite the hit last year.” Hopefully, this year will be the same.
This Wednesday, Retrievers are encouraged to come out in their black and gold, consume as many wings as they would like and make memories with all their classmates and friends.