Students light up the night

Photo credit: Molly Putman

Wood pallet structures lined the Nenana Lot on Saturday night, each awaiting their inevitable destruction by fire. New students and returners alike gathered to watch as the stacked pallets were doused in lighter fluid, then promptly ignited at 8 p.m. Students began to predict which structure would achieve “big ass flame” or “most creative structure,” as well as “longest burn.”

The “Gulch House” located second from the left in the structure line up, was designed to look like an old fashioned saloon. This creation, build by Chi Alpha, was a favorite among the students interviewed before and after the fires started up.

As noted by Tania Winston, who working at the booth for the Ice Box Literary Journal, “Gulch House” was the best in terms of burn and height.

“That one went up pretty fast and got up high,” Winston said. She believed the “Gulch House” was best candidate for “longest burn,” despite the fact that each structure was lit separately.

“They didn’t light them all at the same time,” said Winston, “so it’s hard to kind of judge which one is going to last the longest.”

Svetlana Landt, a sophomore that attended Starvation Gulch last year, picked the same structure for the “longest burn” award.

“Probably the ‘Gulch House.’ That’s probably why I like it,” Landt said. She noted that other structures were shorter and some contained the large, plywood reels, which she said take longer to catch fire.

Illiamna O’Malley, a sophomore, said the “Gulch House” had the biggest flame of the three structures ignited at the time. She noted her surprise at the scale of the fires.

“Very big,” Omalley said. “This is my first year coming, so I wasn’t expecting this much fire.”

O’Malley also stated that she preferred the “Gulch House” out of all five structures compiled for this year’s celebration.

“I liked it. It looked like a building. The rest of them were kind of just thrown together, but that one looked like an actual building,” O’Malley said.

“Oh, definitely that one,” Villamor said, pointing out the saloon-style creation. “The ‘Gulch’ one yeah. It looks like it’s made to burn.”

As the flames began to increase in height as well as heat, students made their way over to the sectioned off dance floor and DJ booth where music filled the night air.

Starvation Gulch is a festivity rooted in tradition for UAF. In 1956 UAF President Ernest Patty passed a campus wide alcohol ban due to drunken brawls. In 1957, the UAF Tradition Stone was created and read “Here Lies Tradition, 1957” to mark the event. The ban on alcohol–that had prompted the creation of the Tradition Stone–was repealed a few years later.

The stone, which was taken from it’s designated place outside of Constitution Hall that same year, was frequently stolen and subsequently changed location often. However, The Tradition Stone is still missing as of this year’s celebration.

Cheyenne Corty

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