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Hanover Fire Chief McMillan Explains Town’s Attitude Towards the Bonfire

McMillan.jpgThis space has derided the defense-in-depth of the modern-day Homecoming bonfire, applauded the courage of ‘shmen who dare to touch the pyre, and asked for help when they have been apprehended, but nobody has made the case for the Town’s increasing worry about the bonfire’s inherent risk. For a while, I thought the College’s nanny-deans were behind the changes, but it turns out that the driving force to keep students safe is Hanover Fire Chief Martin McMillan. I asked him to make his case directly to Dartblog’s readers. He could not have been more gracious in agreeing to do so. Over to you, Chief:

BonfireA.jpg

BonfireB.jpg

BonfireC.jpg

I’ll have a response to Chief McMillan later this week.

Addendum: A fellow ‘79 writes in:

I clearly remember Prez Kim running around… let me check with my ‘10 and a few older folks… We didn’t need to run around it…we had made it 100 tiers high…we just partied…

Addendum: An ‘89 writes in:

That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of — somebody stupid enough to want to run up and touch the fire? Isn’t that one of those transgressions that contains its own punishment? In any case — I never heard of this as a tradition. It would seem that admissions standards are even lower now than they were during the McLaughlin years. [Editor’s note: David McLaughlin’s presidency included the admission of the Class of 1989]

Addendum: As does a close observer of the campus:

Great piece by the Chief, and hats off (helmets off?) to Dartblog for posting it! Look forward to reading your further ruminations.

Addendum: And an alumnus:

The Chief makes sense. If something goes wrong, it’s likely to go REAL wrong. Even if it’s less than a serious injury, you know the administration will happily end the whole thing forever.

Addendum: And another alumnus:

In 1951, we freshmen, probably 200 or so volunteering on about five consecutive nights, went by truck over to the railroad yards in White River Junction in the dark with flashlights… where there were fields full of discarded, used railroad ties. We loaded them onto the truck beds, brought them back to the Green, and WE BUILT the bonfire ourselves… climbing high, AND as tradition had it… “you need as many ‘stories’ of ties as your class number. Being 55, ours was pretty big, and the INSIDE contained wooden chairs, desks and no-good furniture. I recall no-one ever being hurt (luckily), zero College help (not sure whose trucks they were), no permits and nobody was dumb enough to run in to “touch it.” We also were adult enough back then to have our hunting rifles and shotguns in our dorm closets, with letters in Dean Morse’s office saying: “My son John has our permission to have his double barrel 12 gauge on campus.” Ah… responsibility, adult behavior and JUST PLAIN Common sense.

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