Life was a party on Friday night, March 1. In between Interdisciplinary Building South and the softball field, a huge piñata of a tiger was set to burn at the stack of wood underneath it. Hosted by ASPB, the Homecoming Bonfire succeeded in getting UCR and the community ready and pumped up for Homecoming, the weekend that ignites UCR’s basketball season and HEAT. The event boasted many activities including a DJ, dancing, performances, a photo booth and a mechanical bull. Vendors sold mini doughnuts and frozen bananas while they waited for the main event to start. An In-n-Out truck gave out meals to the lucky first people who arrived.

The night started out with a pep rally that featured both the men and women’s basketball teams. Both teams were introduced, sporting matching UCR basketball sweatsuits. The MC announced prizes intermittently while the marching band played Highlander anthems. The spirit squad challenged onlookers to recall the school anthem.  Students and staff alike sputtered through the lyrics, “Brave Scots, one and all we stand together / the tartan clan of UCR,” with confused dance moves to match.  Scotty was there too, cheering everyone on (and ready to watch that tiger burn). After the rally, music played and as people danced, energy and enthusiasm filled the space all around. It was a warm night that got even hotter as the main event rolled around.

UCR tied the University of the Pacific’s mascot, the “Powercat” tiger to a stake and it went down in flames in front of a huge crowd of UCR students and locals.  As the ashes fell over the crowd, no one could miss the heat the bonfire gave off, or the enthusiasm of students that destroyed the paper mâché mascot.

In continuation of the fire theme came an impressive fireworks show. When viewed with the courtesy ASPB-branded 3D glasses, the kaleidoscope effect was dazzling—the lights and sounds continued to the crowd for the rest of the night.  It also prepared spectators for a fire show. Dancers flirted with the flames; with long wires attached to coals they spun and twirled—the fire dangerously close to their skin. The audience stared mesmerized as the fire went from bright to dim.

The fun continued to just about midnight. Some tried different flavors of oxygen at the oxygen bar. Others tried their luck with the mechanical bull; there was also a photo booth to preserve the memories and a trampoline for the entertainment of the spectators. Second-year history major Ruby Peña said, “The best part was watching the fireman play with their hoses [as they put out the bonfire]… just kidding! The best part was the fire dancers and the basketball team.”

UCR students and supporters came out to cheer on the basketball team. After Bonfire, the stage was set for HEAT the next night. Everyone seemed pleased with the festivities. Well maybe not everyone, but I doubt that the “Powercat” expected much fun from the night anyway.