Keeping the University of Alabama Homecoming Fires Burning in Tuscaloosa
According to a few Tweets I read, the crowd for the University of Alabama's homecoming started to gather underneath Denny Chimes a couple hours before the pep rally festivities began.
My family and I arrived on the quad about 30 minutes before the flames began. Last night's weather was perfect for a fire! It felt good to be out on a cool October night in the midst several thousand Crimson Tide football fans.
Young and old, dressed in crimson and white, waited patiently for the Tuscaloosa Fire Department to ignite the flames, The Million Dollar Band echoed across the quad and I could hear Eli Gold, radio play-by-play voice of the Crimson Tide, announcing Lissa Handley Tyson of Birmingham as the UA homecoming queen.
The homecoming queen at Alabama is a tradition that dates back to the early 1920s.
No one I spoke to knew exactly how long the bonfire tradition at pep rallies has been carried out on campus, except Bob Pugh, director of risk management and special projects at the school. He told me it has been part of homecoming festivities for "at least 50 or 60 years."
He also said, "Look at the crowd -- two, three, even four generations of a family hanging out. They’ve been doing it forever."
The crowd was full of people celebrating that tradition.
With the windy conditions last night, Pugh said the Tuscaloosa Fire Department "almost delayed the lighting of the fire."
My family was glad it didn't, even though my 3-year-old was a bit disappointed we couldn't roast a marshmallow on the bonfire.
It was nice to see all hands on deck to keep us Bama fans safe, from the Air Force ROTC to the Tuscaloosa Police Department, Tuscaloosa Fire Department and some of the UA staff. And it was as fun as ever to cheer on the Tide against in their matchup set for tonight against Mississippi State at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Another homecoming pep rally and bonfire in the books, safe and sound. I'll try my best to make it again next year and maybe bring a bag of marshmallows.