COLLEGE STATION, Texas — As the Texas A&M Football team gets prepared to take on LSU this weekend, students are hard at work putting the finishing touches on Aggie Bonfire for 2019.
If you know anything about the Aggies, tradition is something that never goes away. It continues on and on, burning in the heart of every Aggie despite time passing or distance.
Organizing and putting together is no easy task. KAGS reporter Tristan Lewis, who has been working on our Bonfire series of 2019, thought he'd put in a days work; how hard could it be, he thought to himself. It's like a day at the gym, right?
Tristan didn't know one thing. Aggies don't just follow tradition, they live and breathe it.
"Bonfire is what is in the heart of every Aggie and it really shows with all these students out here working," said Head Stack and Red Pot Ashton Vara.
On a bright and sunny fall day in the Brazos Valley, you'll find dozens of Aggies waking up early to put in their fair share of work at Bonfire site. They lift piles of wood and use heavy equipment to work the logs, all to ensure Burn Night is a success.
Bonfire has been around since about 1909, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Back then, it was a pile of trash. It's hard to imagine they thought about 2019 and what 110 years would mean for the tradition, but you could say perhaps Aggies of that first Bonfire knew they had started something special.
Texas A&M University stopped overseeing Bonfire after the 1999 collapse. A group of students restarted the event off-campus in 2003 and has been going ever since. Vara said a big part of why it still goes on is because of the family it forms.
“Once we get out here, we’re building friends, we’re building relationships that last a lifetime," Vara said. “Once you get out here and experience the work for yourself, it takes on a whole new meaning."
The process that goes into Bonfire is a lengthy one. Students and alumni spend weeks getting stack ready for burn night. First cut is scheduled for the beginning of September. Late October brings volunteer builders to Bonfire site to build and get stack ready for Burn Night.
“We have a cut class in the beginning of the season and explain how the organization runs, all the calls and what needs to be done at cut or stack," Vara said. "If anybody is willing, it takes every single person’s help to get one log from point A. It's crucial. We're moving logs that could weigh as much as a car."
It's not just stamina that is required of a build volunteer. Being a part of building stack requires dedication; a burning desire to succeed.
When you strike up a conversation with people working on stack, you’ll find Aggies young and old travel from Houston, Galveston and all over Texas every weekend to help build Bonfire.
“Seeing these guys that are older than me that are still willing to come out and put in the time really speaks to what we are as an organization and how we interact with people," Vara said.
Burn Night is set for Tuesday, Nov. 26 with gates opening at noon. The event kicks off at 8:15 p.m. and Bonfire is lit at 8:50. All are welcome to attend and see the burn. We'll bring you LIVE coverage Tuesday at 6 and 10, only on KAGS.
KAGS BONFIRE SERIES 2019:
- 'It still matters': 20 years later, Aggies, community continue to honor those lost in Bonfire collapse
- Unbroken circle: Aggies gather at Bonfire Memorial to honor the 12 lost in '99 collapse
- Aggies honor those lost at '99 Bonfire site, set to honor S.C. QB and his family Saturday
- Texas A&M to hold remembrance ceremony for 20th anniversary of Bonfire collapse
- BONFIRE: Stack may have changed, but Aggie tradition carries on
- BONFIRE: A look back at more than a century of the Aggie tradition
- New Exhibit Highlights Aggieland Traditions
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