Members of two student organizations ignited the ""A"" of ""A"" Mountain last night to signal the start of Homecoming Week.
""It's the week where whether you went to UA in 2002 or 1922, we're all Wildcats and it's just something fun to celebrate,"" said Jeff Sandell, a business economics and entrepreneurship senior and Bobcats president.
The 13 members of Bobcats Senior Honorary, the 34 members of Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society and homecoming royalty helped light the ""A.""
The UA's Bobcats started in 1922 to promote school spirit and traditions, Sandell said. Mortar Board is a national organization that promotes philanthropy, scholarship and leadership, said Petra Grubisic, a business economics senior and president of the UA chapter of Mortar Board.
""I think it's important because tradition is a really big part of our university, and it's cool because it connects all the different generations together into kind of like one big group,"" Grubisic said.
Clad in red and blue and armed with flashlights, the students spread out across the ""A"" to light flares and set them in place. The students used 150 flares, which burned for 15 to 30 minutes, said Allison Macur, a sociology senior and the vice president of Bobcats.
The clubs had to clear the event with Tucson Parks and Recreation, Tucson Fire Department and UA's Risk Management and Safety Department. Macur said the entire event cost about $1,000, which comes from the club's budget from the Alumni Association.
The Bobcats restarted the tradition of lighting the ""A"" last year after about 10 years of not doing so.
""It was lucky because last year was the first year they brought back the tradition, so we had some kind of precedence set for it,"" Macur said.
A group of students took more than a year to construct the ""A"" on Sentinel Peak after the football team beat Pomona College 7-6 on Nov. 6, 1914, according to information from the online UA History Tour. The students worked every Saturday to clear the brush, dig trenches for the A's foundations, and lay the rock. The ""A"" measures 70 feet across and 160 feet from top to bottom and cost $397 to build, according to the Web site.
""We're so busy with school and work and everything going on, but we do have a lot of history at our school,"" Sandell said. For example, he said, the rock walls at Park Avenue and University Boulevard were constructed using rocks from the ""A"" Mountain site.
""Our school's been around for a long time, but we don't want all the cool stories to vanish or disappear,"" he said.
After the students set the flares in place and lit them, they climbed down and sang ""Bear Down"" as they admired their work.
""As soon as you see the flares go off for the first time, it really just channels what we wanted it to be, which was the original tradition of lighting the ‘A' on fire,"" Macur said. ""It definitely, I hope, is the signal that homecoming is starting, and it's here and it's ready at the UA.""