Some students were left wondering if the Homecoming bonfire could be lit this year after wildfires and drought across the state left McLennan County under a burn ban. The tradition will continue, though, as Waco is an incorporated region and the ban applies only to unincorporated regions of the county.
While the ban does not apply to Baylor, we have to question whether additional precautions should be put in place given the circumstances. Yes, students want each year’s bonfire to be a larger and more impressive testament to our school spirit than in years past. But last year’s bonfire was so large, and the night was so windy, that it caused concern among some students. And if ever there were a year to let prudence take precedence over pride, this would be it.
Two fire engines will be present at the bonfire, as they have been in the past, Chamber members will be equipped with fire extinguishers, and there will be two barriers surrounding the bonfire. These barriers will be put in place to keep the fire contained— a function that the old paved roads running alongside Fountain Mall could have provided in the past.
Still, we might be wise to channel our overzealous school spirit into creating a safer bonfire, rather than a larger one. Make it impressive, make it imposing, but don’t make us feel like we need to run for cover.
Further, it is generous of the university to allow the bonfire to take place in its traditional spot, but after the university has put so much effort into landscaping and beautifying Fountain Mall, it seems an illogical place for the bonfire. According to Warren Ricks, assistant vice president and chief risk management officer, the grass burned beneath the bonfire will have to be removed and replaced. It seems that a location better fitted to this purpose could be found on campus, where the grass can be allowed to grow back on its own, so that the university’s efforts to carefully manicure Fountain Mall won’t go to waste.
Bonfire is a wonderful tradition. It brings together the Baylor family in a show of school spirit that any other event simply could not embody. But with the responsibility of carrying on such a tradition comes the responsibility of keeping others in mind.
We must think about their safety, about their best interests, and of course about the best way to carry out the tradition this year so that it may remain a tradition for the Baylor family for many years to come.