As raindrops began falling from the cloudy sky, the Bobcats Senior Honorary lit their flares and covered the whitewashed “A” on “A” Mountain in light, kicking off Homecoming week on Sunday, Oct. 21 at 5:35 p.m.
This year the class of 2019 was ready to light the flares that kick off Homecoming week for the University of Arizona, rain or shine.
Despite the weather, the senior honorary members were excited to experience the annual tradition.
“It’s absolutely humbling,” said Riley Campbell, senior biology major and president of Bobcats Senior Honorary. “I think for all of us this whole year, all these different experiences, I think humbling is just the best word to describe it all.”
Maddie Halaburda, Bobcat Senior Honorary member and a senior public health student, also expressed excitement to be a part of lighting the “A”. She noted wanting to be a part of the traditions at the UA for a very long time, especialy in a week such as Homecoming.
“We’re really excited to be heading this event,” Halaburda said. “In my entire four years here, Homecoming always starts with this huge bang of lighting the A, so the second we got to volunteer to be a part of it, I was so excited I jumped right on it.”
The excitement of kickstarting the 104th Homecoming week was there for students and alumni alike. Lisa Valentine, director of alumni travel and signature events and a UA graduate of 1991, said she was proud of what the honorary this year accomplished to put together this event.
She also noted the small changes to the tradition that still made it a start to Homecoming week.
“It’s a tradition that’s been going on for a long time,” Valentine said. “When I was in school in the late ‘80s [to] early ‘90s, the freshmen used to whitewash it and the seniors used to light it for homecoming.”
The 260 flares needed to light the “A” had several meanings for members of the Bobcats Senior Honorary.
“The lighting of the ‘A’ is just a small representation of the pride we have in our school,” Campbell said.
It was also explained as a symbol of unity for students and alumni.
“It’s so great knowing that everyone in their dorms, in the library, in classrooms, everywhere they are, they’re able to look up and see the lighting of the ‘A,’” Halaburda said.
Along with the fun students and alumni had during the lighting, there were also safety precautions put into place.
The committee responsible for the lighting ensured the safety of their honorary by having firefighters present on scene.
“I am making sure the students who are already having a good time are having a safe and good time by wearing the proper safety equipment and utilizing flares in a safe manner and just making sure they are watching their footing and staying safe,” said Joshua Thomas Houseman, captain of Tucson fire engine 15.
Along with safety, there were other ways the senior honorary prepared for this event. Since the first week of the fall semester, planning for the lighting of “A” Mountain was on their minds.
There were several steps to ensuring the lighting of the “A” remained an ongoing tradition.
“We had to contact the fire marshals, contact the people about getting the flares and plan for that,” said Katie Christopher, a member of the Bobcats Senior Honorary and a senior nutritional science major.
The Bobcats also do more for Homecoming week than just plan for the lighting of “A” Mountain. There are several events the honorary organizes for students and alumni.
“The kids are great, it’s always a fun time,” Valentine said. “The students start in the fall, and they have committees that oversee events.”
From designating Homecoming royalty to putting on events for the student body, the honorary was involved in a variety of Homecoming activities besides the lighting of the “A”.
“I am a part of the Homecoming Queen Committee so [that involves] the process of interviewing the queens, holding mixers for the queens so that way we get to know them better,” Christopher said. “We have also planned fun events for the week like bowling and the bonfire.”
The lighting of “A” Mountain was the catalyst to another Homecoming week full of events.
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