Starvation Gulch 2012 turns up the heat

UAF Students in front watch the blazing fire during Starvation Gulch. Sep 29, 2012. David Spindler/Sun Star

Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star Reporter
September 30, 2012

Temperatures dipped to just a few degrees above freezing as students and other members of the Fairbanks community filled the Taku Parking lot awaiting the lighting of the Starvation Gulch 2012 bonfires.

Starvation Gulch is a time honored tradition at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 1923.  While students may have sported rain coats and mud boots last year, this year played more to the tune of scarves, hats and mittens. However, as each pallet structure was engulfed in flames and the festivities began, students began shedding layers of winter clothing and stress from the previous week of classes and homework.

Each pallet structure was built by a different university organizations. This year’s organizations included the Alpha Phi Omega and the UAF firefighting squad.  This year the bonfires were much larger than the bonfires of 2011 with six pallet structures instead of the three.

“Last year was my first year going to Starvation Gulch,” said Iver Evanger, a sophomore. “But this year is way bigger than last year. It’s pretty sick!”

The structure that elicited the most enthusiastic responses out of the student body was APO’s structure in the shape of Poseidon, complete with a ply wood face and crown sporting the three Greek letters for APO and a trident made of 2×4 wooden boards. Another structure was in the shape of a dragon with a head made of green painted pallets. The six teams competed for the two coveted awards given out each year, the “Big Ass Flame” trophy and “Most Creative” award. APO has won the “Big Ass Flame” trophy for a number of years.

Some students observed the roaring fires, others mingled among the myriad of booths that were featured as part of the nights entertainment. An ASUAF tent was selling hot tea and cider and the Japanese club was selling hot Japanese cuisine. On the other side of the aisle was the UAF Alpine club, advertising their fall and spring excursion trips, including fall rock climbing classes on the outdoor climbing tower by the student recreation center and a spring ice climbing trip. There was also a booth handing out free t-shirts and sweatshirts with the “Starvation Gulch 2012” logo and a booth educating students about the UAF ministry.

An aspect of entertainment that was very popular in past years was the DJ, who threw beats at the crowd from an elevated tent facing an open space for dancing. The music also featured local MC, Alaska Red. Following the bonfires that lasted late into the night, students gathered in the Hess Rec center in the Moore Bartlett Skarland complex to watch “The Amazing Spiderman” as part of Heroes and Heroes. This program, featuring a recently released superhero movie and Hero sandwiches, has been a feature part of the Starvation Gulch festivities over past years.

Whatever it may be to students, a bonfire, a giant dance party or just free t-shirts and food, Starvation Gulch is the event of the season that kicks off the year at UAF.

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