Bonfire will burn lower this year to please local authorities
Saturday’s bonfire will be smaller than the one that took place in 2006 in order to reduce the amount of embers emitted, according to Princeton Borough Director of Emergency Services Robert Gregory. The bonfire, which will take place on Cannon Green at 7 p.m. Saturday night, will celebrate the football team’s victories over Harvard and Yale this season.
The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, USG and class councils have been working together since last Saturday to coordinate the bonfire logistics. The cost of the event will be comparable to the $12,000 cost of the 2006 bonfire, according to USG president Bruce Easop ’13, though production costs will increase due to staging and lighting improvements. Easop said security will cost about $2,500 and production will cost between $6,000 and $8,000; the labor costs will depend on the amount of hours required to build the fire.
The safety precaution was put in place this year because last time the fire’s embers got too close to the trees and to the crowd, which posed a fire risk, according to Gregory. Over 40 personnel from the Borough’s Emergency Services Department, the University’s Department of Public Safety and the Borough’s First Aid and Rescue Squad will be on hand to supervise the fire.
The ceremony will begin with speeches by University President Shirley Tilghman, Easop and Class of 2013 president Zach Beecher. It will culminate in the lighting of the bonfire, which will burn until around 8:30 p.m.
The preparations for the bonfire will start Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Students will gather wood pallets collected by the Facilities Department and bring them to Cannon Green, where the 12-by-12-foot bonfire pyre will be constructed. Members of the Class of 2016 will take the first 75-minute shift at 8 a.m., the Class of 2015 will begin at 9:15 a.m., the Class of 2014 at 10:30 a.m. and the Class of 2013 at 11:45 a.m. Construction will end at 1 p.m., just in time for the football team’s season-ending home game against Dartmouth.
“In 2006, we sort of did this same model in having classes take shifts to build it,” said Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne, who is helping to organize the bonfire. “It ended up being a great sort of photo op for people. Groups of friends or teams or organizations would come together and write messages on the pallets before they were put onto the bonfire.”
The ceremony will take place on a stage constructed behind Nassau Hall. Members of the 2006 football team will then pass the torch to the current football team captains, who will light the bonfire. Afterward, the University Band will lead the audience in school spirit songs and chants.
The bonfire will also include traditions such as the burning of a stuffed animal bulldog representing Yale and an effigy of John Harvard created by the Triangle Club.
“One thing we’re really focused on this year is embracing the tradition of the event, making it really look and feel like the great Princeton tradition that it is,” Dunne said. “It will definitely speak to the history of the event and really focus on school pride.”
Over 1,500 people indicated their plans to attend the bonfire on the event’s Facebook page, and Dunne and Easop said many alumni are expected to come to the weekend event.
“It will be a great Princeton moment, gathering the past and present,” Easop said.