No attempts to touch Homecoming bonfire

by Andrew Culver | 11/2/18 2:55am

Hanover experienced a calmer Homecoming weekend than usual. This year’s Homecoming weekend saw only one arrest and fewer Good Sam calls than previous years.

Following the town of Hanover’s concerns about bonfire safety, new security measures were put in place this year, including building a shorter fire, placing multiple fences around it and restricting members of the Class of 2022 to only walking one lap around the fire.

“I think [the fire] was almost picture perfect,” said Keysi Montás, interim director of the Department of Safety and Security.

Similarly, Hanover town manager Julia Griffin said the event was “perfect” with no students attempting to touch the fire.

Hanover police chief Charlie Dennis echoed Griffin and Montás, saying that he thought this year’s bonfire “went very well.”

“Many of the changes were made with a focus on having a safer evening,” Board of Trustees secretary Laura Hercod said. “We were encouraged to do that by the town and the town felt the evening was a success, too.”

Montás said he was pleased with the level of maturity shown by the students.

“I am very happy our bonfire is living to see another year,” he added.

Engineering professor Douglas Van Citters ’99 Th’03’06, who was chair of the working group that made the changes to the bonfire this year, wrote in an email that he was glad everyone involved “demonstrated that we can come together as a community and work with the town to put on a safe and meaningful evening.”

Van Citters also wrote that the new fire collapsed perfectly in on itself, “exactly as designed.”

Good Sam calls also decreased from previous years, according to Montás.

“Good Sams are good, but if people are not calling in Good Sams because they are not intoxicated, that is even better,” he said.

Similarly, Dennis said that calls to the Hanover Police Department decreased relative to previous years. Hanover police received one phone call early Saturday morning about an intoxicated person, but that was the only arrest of Homecoming weekend.

“The safety measures the College put in place to help curb some of the behavior that wasn’t acceptable worked well,” Dennis said. “I think it went very well from a public safety perspective.”

Montás said that while representatives from the College have not yet done a full debrief of the weekend, he does not anticipate any major changes being required for next year’s bonfire.

Griffin noted that the bonfire will be able to continue in future years, citing changes in traffic flow in Hanover as the only change anticipated for next year.

Hercod added that the goal for next year will be to “keep as much of the tradition as possible, but evolve where we need to.”

“I know there was disappointment about not being able to run the laps and I understand that, but I also think it was the old way — and no bonfire — or the new way and the continuation of the bonfire,” Hercod said.

Gab Smith ’22 said that while she was glad the fire got to happen at all, she wished she and her classmates had been able to run laps around the fire.

“[There was an] initial sense of awe seeing the fire and approaching it,” Alana McClements ’22 said.

McClements noted, however, that this initial excitement quickly wore off as students walked, as opposed to ran, around the fire.

Jacob Dell ’22 and three friends completed 122 laps around the bonfire by running outside the fenced area.

“We decieded that we would find a way to make the tradition happen, even if it wasn’t in the way that it typically occurs,” Dell said, adding that running all 122 laps took over two hours.

Griffin said that running around the fire may have been a part of the Homecoming tradition, but it was not “a safe part of the tradition.”