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'Friends for life': Aggies prepping bonfire reflect back on teamwork

Posted at 11:45 PM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 13:41:11-05

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Sitting on an empty field on Old Hearne Road stands the 45-foot structure that will soon host the annual Aggie bonfire.

Nick Zang is the president and CEO of the Student Bonfire Organization.

Addressing recent rumors, Zang confirmed the event's 2-month delay was purely for the safety of everyone attending.

“If we burned on the originally planned date, the Friday after Thanksgiving, then the site would've basically flooded," Zang said.

"We couldn’t safely have people in and out of the bonfire site without their cars getting ruined,"

"We didn’t want to bare that on our conscience and have anyone go through that risk of coming to our event.”

After the 1999 tragedy that claimed the lives of 12 people, the Aggie tradition has turned into a time of remembrance.

Zang said safety continues to stay at the forefront even 24 years later.

“The safety is extreme; we have a steel cable that wraps top to bottom every 3 feet from the base that we build out," Zang said.

"We tension the structure extremely tight so that every single one of those logs has at least 3 wires that pull it towards the center pole.”

Safety Coordinator Jacob Lin said preparation isn’t something that's so easy to set up.

“It takes quite a bit of prep work," Lin said.

"We are constantly prepping to make sure everything is ready and always thinking ahead,"

"We of course take into account the weather, the time, and all the logistics behind the bonfire,” Lin said.

From wood to supplies, the safety coordinator said the Aggie Bonfire organization relies heavily on donations to make it all happen.

“Everything is strictly donations; we probably raise $20,000 that’s not donated on burn night," Zang said.

"Everything else we do is all jobs to raise donations, all upper leadership, and students working constantly to get donations to fund the bonfire."

The original date was slated for November 25 leading up to the Aggie win against LSU.

Lin said a win is a win, but there’s no timestamp on this tradition.

“The bonfire was kinda a way for me to get into the Aggie spirit, it’s how I got into all the other traditions like Midnight Yell and Silver Taps," Lin said.

"It makes me really value the core of being an Aggie,"

"Through this, I’ve met some of my closest friends in my entire life and probably for the rest of my life.”