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A Bonfire Question

An interested observer writes in:

Interesting back and forth on the bonfire. My wife is an ‘86, and she says that the “tradition” of touching the fire didn’t exist then. So how long has it been in place? It’s not as sacred as the bonfire itself, so why not evolve it? There are many things that could be done that would be meaningful, build spirit, and involve the bonfire. I for one would rather the fences come down and the attempts at touching the fire stop than have the fences remain… Thanks for the great info!

On the Hanlon front, maybe the Psych Brain Sciences imbroglio might be enough to nudge him out of Hanover, no doubt with a generous severance.

As I have written, in the fall of 1975, despite the enormity of the Class of 1979’s bonfire, we neither ran around the pyre nor tried to touch it.

Does anyone know when (and how?) these two traditions began?

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I don’t remember trying to touch the fire in ‘88, but one of my friends tried to light a cigarette on it. The attempt, which I think was successful, melted the sleeve of his bright yellow Patagonia jacket. He wore that jacket all four years. The Class Historians even made a joke about him at Class Day in ‘92.

About 15 years ago, the College had a concern about the Freshman Roundup (I think that’s what it was called) and how the ‘shmen terrified the good citizens of Hanover when they stormed onto the Green. That may have been when the College started trying to control things, which leads to greater disregard for authority, right?

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