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Fire and spirit: What the UA’s annual Homecoming tradition is all about

Homecoming+festivities+begin+with+the+lighting+of+%E2%80%9CA%E2%80%9D+mountain+and+end+with+the+bonfire.+Students+and+alums+look+forward+to+showing+their+Wildcat+spirit+during+the+week+of+events+celebrating+the+class+of+1973.
Farrah Rodriguez
Homecoming festivities begin with the lighting of “A” mountain and end with the bonfire. Students and alums look forward to showing their Wildcat spirit during the week of events celebrating the class of 1973.

The University of Arizona will finish this year’s week of Wildcat pride and spirit on Nov. 3 with the Homecoming bonfire and royalty crowning following the lighting of “A” Mountain.

Homecoming week starts on Sunday, Oct. 29, with the lighting of “A” Mountain, where students, alumni and the Tucson community light the “A” Mountain on Sentinel Peak. The week continues with a class reunion for the class of 1973 as well as more events. The week culminates with the bonfire.

The UA has been celebrating by lighting “A” Mountain since the early 1900s, and continues the tradition to celebrate today. It was called off for a time but recently began again in 2008.

A firefighter dousing the bonfire at the Homecoming bonfire and royalty crowning at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2022. This event took place on the west side of Old Main. (Ben Tisdale)

“The bonfire is an event the Friday night of homecoming week where the whole university gets together to witness the crowning of that year’s homecoming king and queen,” Adi Beckman, a senior who has attended the event before, said. 

The many different candidates line up after getting nominated, and they wait to see if they win.

The Pride of Arizona marching band plays songs before and after the event, dancing and celebrating. There is also a cheerleading routine filled with flips, jumps and more. There are several speeches from different people, including UA staff.

“After the names are announced and everyone is congratulated, there is a big bonfire of wood pallets that’s burned in front of Old Main. The band is there playing the fight song, and Wilbur and Wilma even join in on the fun!” Beckman said.

The bonfire is put on by the Tucson Fire Department, where everyone stands in front of Old Main, watching the flames lick the sky. Because of the heat, spectators can feel the fire from far away, and its light paints the crowd and buildings red like the Wildcats. As the evening ends and the flames get smaller, the fire department ends the evening by putting out the fire.

The Pride of Arizona marching band plays on Old Main at the Homecoming bonfire Oct. 28, 2022. Many UA students and alumni were in attendance and the Tucson Fire Department was on standby monitoring the fire. (Ben Tisdale)

“I believe that you’re going to experience things that, even if you took a picture, you wouldn’t be able to capture the moment [of]. That’s really what I’m expecting,” Tobi Adigun, a senior planning to attend the event, said.

To Marc Acuna, vice president of Student and Alumni Engagement, the bonfire and royalty crowning “gives you a moment to celebrate the great place that is the University, really great traditions and gets you connected.”

According to Acuna, the event is for everyone. For many, the event is also a way to see the school community.

“To me, the bonfire is a great way to cap off the week of crazy school spirit and community that is homecoming week. By Friday, most of the alumni are in town, so for me, it’s always an exciting time to get to see my friends who graduated and take part in a UofA tradition all together,” Beckman said.

For those that haven’t gone yet, like Adigun, he recommends “anyone who is kind of on the fence on Homecoming or who is unsure about going, they should just go … I guarantee they are going to be looking forward to the next Homecoming.”  

The lighting of “A” Mountain will take place on Oct. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the MSA Annex located at 267 S. Avenida del Convento. The bonfire takes place on Nov. 3 from 7 to 8 p.m. on the west side of Old Main.


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