Homecoming bonfire expected to have exceeded budget

by Melanie Kos | 11/3/16 12:29am

The total cost for this year’s Homecoming weekend bonfire will likely go over budget, said Eric Ramsey, the Homecoming and bonfire committee chair. Ramsey, who is also the associate dean for student life, attributed this increase in spending to the hiring of third-party security and variable building costs, such as scaffolding and timber, that may increase year to year.

According to the Undergraduate Finance Committee’s 2016-17 allocation, the budget for the Homecoming bonfire this year was $33,362. In the 2015-16 year, the bonfire committee was allotted $32,750, and in the 2014-15 year, $31,800.

In addition to having Safety and Security officers, Hanover Police officers and Hanover firefighters present at the bonfire, the College hired 10 security officers from Green Mountain Concert Services to help monitor the night.

“Safety and security is our main priority, so we’re going to pay what we need to keep the event safe,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said that this year, Homecoming weekend was scheduled closer to Halloween to allow for the completion of Baker Library Bell Tower’s restoration. However, this later date also presented some challenges, including colder weather and rain.

The kerosene and flares used ensured that the bonfire would still light — even if the inclement weather continued throughout the night — although it took longer to light in comparison to previous years. Although the bonfire occurs rain or shine, the bonfire committee has a contingency plan to cancel the event and reschedule it for the next night, or disassemble the bonfire, in the case of severe and potentially dangerous weather, Ramsey said.

The overall construction of the bonfire has remained consistent over the past 13 years that Ramsey has been with the College. The procedures have only had minor tweaks, and the rain did not change anything related to the construction budget this year.

Dartmouth Yacht Club and Physical Education Ski director John Brady, who helps to oversee the bonfire construction, said that the bonfire timber was delivered last November, and thus material costs were not affected by this Homecoming weekend’s rainy weather. He also said costs related to the amount of kerosene, flares, nails and tools used were the same as any other year.

As of press time, Ramsey said the bonfire committee had not yet determined the exact costs of constructing and lighting this year’s bonfire.