Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Parade, Dartmouth Hall ceremony precede bonfire

The bonfire is coming. You can practically smell the smoke in the air. But the actual burning doesn't happen without careful preparation, and the ignition of the flame only occurs after traditional Dartmouth Night events.

Since the bonfire this year falls on the day after Halloween, there will be some related festivities as part of Homecoming weekend. To start off the big night this evening, "There will be pumpkin painting and face painting at 'spirit stations' before the Freshman Sweep," said Colleen Platt '06, co-chair of the Bonfire Committee.

The four "spirit stations" -- near the River, Choates and Gold Coast clusters and one close to the Sphinx -- will also distribute Halloween candy to their visitors and the bonfire builders. Freshmen will gather at the stations at 6 p.m. before embarking on the legendary freshman sweep. Starting in the River at 7:30, the sweep will transform into a parade through Hanover as people are swept along and will end on the Green in time for the ceremonies at Dartmouth Hall.

Nelson Armstrong '71, director of alumni relations, will act as master of ceremonies during a series of three-minute speeches.

"This is a great weekend," Armstrong said, "We want to say 'welcome home' to the alumni, and of course tell our sports teams to get out there and do their best."

Slated to speak are President of the Alumni Noel Fidel '66, President of the College James Wright, Laura Ashley '03 of the women's soccer team and football team captain Kevin Noone '03. Fidel, joined by his sons Nathan Fidel '02 and Louis Fidel '03, will speak first. Captains and coaches of all varsity teams will be recognized as well.

"In terms of the theme for our speech," Ashley explained, "the director had one word for us to follow -- fun." Ashley said they would be trying to get "the alums, students, community and everyone on the Green this Friday night excited about celebrating the spirit of Dartmouth together."

In addition to the speeches, the Glee Club is scheduled to sing before and after the ceremony. They will start off the night with "Dartmouth Undying," "The Twilight Song," "Son of a Gun for Beer" and "Pea Green Freshman," before finishing the program by leading the crowd in a hearty rendition of the "Alma Mater".

"We do classic Dartmouth songs that alums really like to hear," Glee Club singer Andrew Westgate '03 said.

Finally, the marching band will lead the way to the bonfire.

The whole ceremony will run about 30 minutes at the most, according to Armstrong, who said that the agenda is the same as it's been in past years.

"I think people are anxious to see the bonfire, not the ceremony," Armstrong said.

At the close of the ceremony, six freshmen, chosen based on their participation with bonfire building, will light the fire. The freshmen will first pour kerosene over the wood, then light it with flaming torches. Some expressed concern for their safety, citing the possibility that they would still have kerosene on their clothes or bodies and catch fire.

"They might split the job among two groups of freshmen this year," Platt said, adding, "There will be fire extinguishers right behind the lighters too."

Participating '06s began building the bonfire yesterday at 8 a.m. and after they had worked for eight hours, Safety and Security took over, patrolling the site throughout Halloween night. Students continue the construction today, toiling until the structure is complete, "probably around 1 p.m.," according to Platt.

The bonfire committee also provided food for builders and markers for them to write their names on the wood of the tiers.

Also adding to the festive atmosphere, the Woodsman's Team practiced some fancy wood splitting on the Green, and the College radio station, 99 Rock, broadcasted from a table during the construction efforts as well.

Each dorm or dorm cluster was assigned a time in which freshman residents would be able to help, and the '06s wishing to participate signed up for building through their undergraduate advisors or at T-shirt selling stations in Collis Center and Thayer Dining Hall.

This year's Dartmouth-green T-shirts feature a bonfire design with "06" incorporated into the flames and are selling for $10.

Despite the emphasis on construction of the bonfire, Platt noted that students could be involved in other activities. "We also need volunteers for stuff besides building the bonfire," she said, "so stop by."

Today from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., there will be a booth set up where students can have their photos made into magnets and key chains for $2, and plans are underway for a bonfire commemorative video as well.

With all the planning and effort by students and coordinators, participants are expecting that the bonfire should go off without a glitch.Flyers posted all over campus urge freshmen, "Oh sixes, Don't be anti-social losers! Help make the Homecoming 2002 bonfire the best yet!" So just make sure you get out to see it.