Pallet pyres: Student groups assemble giant structures to set on fire for Starvation Gulch
Alan Fearns/Sun Star Reporter
October 2, 2012
Six teams composed of various campus departments and clubs signed their risk waivers, strapped on their safety gear and went to work last Saturday, Sept. 29 at 10 a.m. UAF students transported hundreds of wooden pallets into the Taku parking lot to begin the annual bonfire building.
Teams were given between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to complete their structures. The amount of pallets each team collected over the last year decided their supply at the event. Student Activities Office coordinator Cody Rogers and Teal Rogers, a marketing student who works for SAO, monitored students’ safety and provided snacks and drinks.
Bonfire building is a competition divided in two categories: biggest flame and most creative. Trophies are awarded for each
and winners are decided by two groups. This year’s winner will be decided by a member of Residence Life. One staff, one student and one alumni choose the most creative design.
Jack Spencer, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s team captain, said his team is going for both trophies. Their plan was to make a 200 foot structure with a phoenix and a flaming sigma letter.
“We are using the pallets in a structural method rather than the stack method that most people seem to choose,” Spencer said.
Alpha Phi Omega started by drawing out lines for the base and maintaining airflow throughout the build.
“We’ve been doing this for probably eight years now,” said Bobby Pendleton, APO’s team captain. “We have a pretty good plan.”
Other teams, however, had less planned out for their structure when they arrived.
“We’re shooting from the hip,” said Paul Young, a member of the campus firefighter’s team.
Edge’s team had less pallets compared to others so they decided on a well-like design on a base of five pallets spiraling upwards. This was to get the biggest flame possible with the least amount of wood.
At 2 p.m., students were scrambling to put the finishing touches on their work.
The firefighters had turned their aimless pile of wood into a log cabin. The College of Engineering and Mines students stacked pallets of blue and red into a tower resembling a Mayan temple. Students from APO were assembling a trident for their Poseidon structure decorated with a gold plywood crown and rope beard. Members of Sigma Phi chanted their fraternity’s name as they placed a purple Sigma letter in front of a flaming backdrop.
The UAF Honors team built a Viking long ship with a dragon’s head and axe designs. Honors finished early giving them time to make smores and chat around a fire.
APO watched the Taku parking lot after 3 p.m. to prevent any tampering with the bonfire structures.