Texas A&M to hold remembrance events

University officials, students and former students of Texas A&M University are planning several events this month to remember fallen Aggies, and try to continue the bonfire tradition that ended three years ago.On Nov. 18, 1999, at 2:42 a.m., construction of the massive bonfire ended as it collapsed, claiming the lives of 12 Aggies and injuring 27 others.Controversy has surrounded plans to renew the tradition, dividing the once united university.”We will hold a remembrance ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 17, for the families, and the bells will sound at 2:42 a.m. on the 18th,” said Lane Stephenson, deputy director of university relations at TAMU. “There will be a yell practice before the game, although I don’t have the details of that yet.””The game is in Austin this year, and on a Friday. Yell practice is usually held two nights prior to the game, but that could change this year,” Stephenson said. Specific information about all university-sponsored events has not been released.Several off-campus bonfires were held last year, without university support or public promotion. This year, High Meadow Ranch Golf Club in Magnolia will hold a bonfire that is free and open to the public. Bonfire at the club will accompany a golf tournament, barbecue and evening concert.David Goff, general manager of High Meadow and a 1980 TAMU graduate said he respects the university’s position, but thinks this bonfire will be a good opportunity for former students to share bonfire tradition with their families.Stephenson said officials encourage students, alumni, and friends alike to participate only in university sponsored events. “We don’t support any unauthorized bonfires; we actually discourage it. There will be no university participation at these bonfires, no band, no official student organizations,” Stephenson said.Students and family members of the Bonfire collapse will gather to share memories at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 in the Administration Building on the TAMU campus. At 5:30 p.m., wreaths will be laid at the site where the 1999 Bonfire fell.The first Bonfire was built in 1909, and TAMU took charge of the event in 1935 after participants “liberated” the building materials from a local farmer’s barn.After being held at several locations, the 1992 Bonfire was moved to the polo fields near the intersection of Texas and University Avenues in College Station.Bonfire has traditionally been held during the week preceding the Thanksgiving Day football showdown between TAMU and rival University of Texas. Aggie Muster and yell practice, along with the bonfire, prepare fans for what always proves to be an outstanding contest.Since the 1999 collapse, TAMU fans have worked together with the university to keep the long-standing Aggie tradition alive. Plans are still being considered to revive Bonfire on campus, however safety and liability concerns have plagued those plans.UT students have gone to great lengths in past years to try to spoil the spiriting event for Aggies. In 1933 and 1948, firebombs were dropped from planes in an attempt to light the bonfire early. In 1956, explosives were planted. None of these attempts were successful.Attendance figures have shown that between 30,000 and 70,000 people attended Bonfire each year.

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