Friday, Nov. 17, saw the success of yet another ASPB Bonfire, commemorating the homecoming of returning UCR students and welcoming new Highlanders with the burning of an effigy representing a rival team. The event started at 6 p.m. and ended at 10 p.m. and was held at Lot 19, while the effigy was burned on the INTS field.
Staple attractions and food vendors returned as with past years: The smell of Mom’s Mini Donuts permeated the air while the Rockstar tent provided a space for conversation. Most noteworthy of these staples was the In-N-Out Burger truck and its infamous line, extending past the entrance to the MSE building, with some waiting in line for upwards of an hour in that line. Some, including MFA candidate Justin Reich, came dead set on indulging on Bonfire’s most beloved attraction. “I just came for a free hamburger,” he says. “Based on how loud (Bonfire) is, I’m already not a fan, it’s not really my scene,” echoing a sentiment not uncommon for those in attendance.
But for others new to UCR, Bonfire represented more intrigue beyond the free burger. First year students Shreeya Tripathi and Catalina Geronimo speak enthusiastically, bouncing off each other’s notes that the event was “definitely cool.” “I can appreciate the effort… It reminds me of Block Party!” Tripathi remarks, noting the food and ride options. Geronimo chimes in, saying “I actually have an essay due but I wanted to come because it seemed worth going to.” While the burning of the effigy may not be worth attendance for some, there’s a novelty in attendance that some students seek out. Third year anthropology student Sabrina Fajardo remarks that “free stuff and involvement with school” warrants at least a single visit to the ritualistic party.
On the topic of parties, Elephante, whose appearance at UCR marked the end of his Animals Wanted tour, was Bonfire’s musical guest. It was a fairly typical house and EDM type affair that was guaranteed to provide the soundtrack to a festive Friday night. Some songs on the DJ’s set included remixes of Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Niggas in Paris” and Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem.”
For many in attendance, the simpler stuff did the trick as opposed to the Rockstar-fueled vigor that Elephante catered to. Phillip Niechotz, a third year international student from Germany, states, “It’s nice, the free ASPB stuff and music. But I’m mostly excited for the fire. I wish I had In-N-Out, but,” he motions to his luminescent foam stick cheerily, “I have this!” Par for the course, a photo booth was backed up by a massive line but was nonetheless a fun way to remember the night with friends.
Thrill seekers eager for a rush of adrenaline were given the option to line up for rides, including the ferris wheel’s older, meaner brother, the roc-o-plane (lo, the pained screams of poor souls trapped in a steel cage ring like a macabre comedy from the safety below). Fireworks popped like the fourth of July and, of course, the effigy burning drew a large crowd. Doused by the fire department, the pile of ashes from the hunks of ceremonial wood signified the end of the night.