By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
A time-honored fall tradition was practiced once again Thursday night — a big fire in a parking lot.
Stillwater High School students, teachers and administrators gathered in an open area at Hamilton Field at Couch Park to celebrate the annual homecoming bonfire, one of several events during an extended weekend of special events.
Several football players and coach Tucker Barnard attended the event, one night before taking on Ponca City in the homecoming football game at 7 p.m. Friday at Pioneer Stadium.
Sterling Watkins, a starting offensive lineman, said he hopes the energy at the bonfire will continue during the game Friday night.
“Everybody out here is getting all hyped for the game tomorrow,” Watkins said. “They bring a lot of spirit to the football team. I know I’m going to go out on the field and try my hardest to get that (win) for all the students and fans of Stillwater High School.”
The Pioneers and Wildcats each enter the district contest winless after three games.
“We want to get that win. That’s a huge understatement,” Watkins said. “We have a high sense of urgency. We want that (win) more than I can even imagine. We’ll do anything to get that (win). I probably won’t get any sleep (Thursday) night. I don’t know any of us (players) who will.”
Bonfire coordinator Tommie Grant, student council faculty adviser, said it required approximately two hours of work to construct the pile of limbs and logs. Grant said the school obtained a burn permit from the fire department.
“This is just an American tradition, the homecoming bonfire,” Grant said. “We all have fond memories of the football game, the bonfire, the dances, the pretty girls in their dresses. It’s just an American tradition that we are continuing here in Stillwater.”
The bonfire was canceled last year because of a burn ban in Payne County. Conditions were favorable Thursday, although a fire engine from the Stillwater Fire Department was on hand to monitor the blaze and later extinguish it.
“I love coming out to the bonfire,” said senior Sam Weir. “It’s fun. You get to hang out with your friends and socialize.”
The homecoming queen will be crowned before the football game at Pioneer Stadium. Many students will be attending the Blacklight Dance from 10 p.m. to midnight Friday.
Stillwater High School Principal Uwe Gordon said graduating classes of 1973 and 1978 will have reunions and a tour through the school this weekend.
“We are Pioneers, whether you graduate in 2014 or you graduated in the class of 1953,” Gordon said.