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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA kicks off homecoming by lighting up the “A” on “A” Mountain

Alex McIntyre

John Nofs, a UA alumnus and freelance photographer, breaks down his time-lapse camera setup after the “A” Mountain lighting ceremony near the top of the “A” on Sunday, Oct. 18. The lighting of “A” Mountain kicked off the UA’s 101st Homecoming celebrations.

The annual celebration of the lighting of “A” Mountain took place Sunday evening on top of Main Gate Parking Garage. The event, put on by the UA Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Ambassadors, kicked off the start of Homecoming week at the UA.

The celebration featured music from the UA Alumni Band and appearances from the UA cheerleaders and mascots, Wilbur and Wilma. The members of this year’s Homecoming court were also announced. The main event of the evening, the lighting of the “A”, took place just after 6 p.m..

The celebration required months of planning to come together. Paulina Bueno, a senior studying speech, language and hearing sciences and psychology, and the SAA chair for the lighting of “A” Mountain event, said that she worked on the celebration since July.

Her task of planning the event, Bueno said, was complicated by the school’s budget cuts. While the actual event survived being cut completely, the smaller budget required some flexibility regarding the details of the celebration.

“We weren’t really sure how this was going to go about. We had different ideas,” Bueno said. “We were going to have this event at a different location, which would have been different because I don’t think many students would have gone if it had been off campus, so I really tried to keep it on campus.”

With the location secured, Bueno’s focus turned to the celebration’s catering. Sponsors like Whole Foods and alumni donors made the event’s free pizza, cookies and beverages possible.

The actual lighting of the “A” remained unchanged in the face of budget cuts. The tradition of lighting the “A” began as a way to burn away the brush on the letter in order to whitewash it. This continued for years, eventually happening during the Homecoming bonfire of each year, but 2013 was the first year the lighting of “A” Mountain became the actual celebratory event that it is today.

For the lighting of the “A” itself, the Bobcats Senior Honorary, comprised of 13 students chosen through a written application and interview process, set up flares over the “A” on Sentinel Peak lit them with the help of firemen. Jill Hall, the adviser for the Bobcats and the vice president of Alumni Engagement and Innovation, said that it usually takes about two minutes for all of the flares to fully light.

“It’s really cool,” Hall said. “We try to get the word out so that if you’re on campus or anywhere you can see it glowing.”

Down at the parking garage, Bueno had 53 volunteers help her set up the event an hour before its start time. The attendance of the event has grown over the years, with around 200 people expected at the 2012 celebration and 500 estimated to have gone to this year’s, according to Hall. For some, the event was their first celebration of UA Homecoming as a student.

“Just watching the ‘A’ being lit is a tradition here, so it’s cool being part of it for the first time as a freshman,” said Khenda McIntee, a pre-business major. “It’s great.”

For others, the celebration is a reminder of their future as a UA alumnus that is to come.

“I just want this to keep going for many years,” Bueno said. “In 30 years I want to come back and still be able to come to this event, because it’s really special and really fun.”

Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.

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