'09s build annual bonfire
As they frantically run around the towering bonfire in the center of the Green, most freshmen do not appreciate the effort and planning that has gone into the structure's creation.
The Thayer School of Engineering supplied the current design, which has been employed for decades and is designed with safety in mind -- it can only collapse inward.
The bonfire was constructed of specially ordered, square-cut, non-treated lumber. According to safety rules, the bonfire is in a hexagonal shape and contains only 33 tiers in the base star, 22 tiers in the hexagon and seven tiers in the square.
The wood used is stored a year in advance to ensure that it is dry enough to burn quickly.
While freshmen no longer stand guard day and night to protect the bonfire from upperclassmen bent on its destruction, there is still a sense of pride involved in building it.
This year, different freshman dorms are competing with each other to see who can accrue the most participants to build the fire. Construction started Thursday and will end Friday. Bonfire Committee leaders Ruslan Tovbulatov '09 and Daniel Killeen '09 split the building into sessions, with each dorm cluster taking nearly two hours.
Tovbulatov expects that the contest will spike participation to a record high.
"It's really great because people are so excited about the contest," he said. "We'll have more than enough people to finish the building on time."
Tovbulatov and Killeen headed up three committees for food, activities and t-shirts under the supervision of John Pfister, associate dean of freshmen, and Eric Ramsey, the assistant director of student activities.
The t-shirt motto this year -- "If you can't stand the heat, get off the Green" -- was one of the many aspects of the festivities discussed in their weekly meetings.
According to Tovbulatov, the committee was primarily in charge of making sure builders were well-fed and entertained.
"We just wanted to make sure it was well-publicized and people get enough hot chocolate and can listen to the radio while they build," he said.
Tovbulatov also insists that construction is entirely safe.
"Hard hats are required at all times during building, and it is supervised by professional construction employees and Safety and Security at all times," he said. "As long as people are logical and act rationally, the possibility of any problems related to safety is minimal."