‘Hold high the torch’ at BYU


Homecoming is a time to welcome alumni and current students to celebrate the beginning of a new school year and take pride in the university.

Opening ceremonies will kick off Tuesday at 11 a.m. in the Marriott Center. The marching band will open the ceremony.

Ron Clark, with university public affairs,  said the band, “with that beat and rhythm and sound . . . will get blood pumping” in the arena.

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The Cougar Marching Band preforms in the Marriott Center.

President and Sister Samuelsons will introduce this year’s theme, “Hold High the Torch,” and the honored founder Gerrit de Jong, Jr. De Jong was the first dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications.  Clark said he hopes students will feel a connection to de Jong for what he created and be motivated to excel in their talents.

Chad Lewis, a former football great and BYU alumnus will also be there. Lewis, who won his superbowl ring with the St. Louis Rams, is a good example of being an achiever like de Jong, will address the student body and talk about the theme.

“Everyone of us has a responsibility in our own unique way and style with our own talents to do something significant for us, for our life and for others,” Clark said.

The Brimhall and de Jong family members will be in the audience to hear the winning Brimhall essay contest entry.  George H. Brimhall served as BYU’s president from 1904-1921.

The ceremony will end with men’s chorus singing a feature from Homecoming Spectacular, “The Impossible Dream.”

Immediately following opening ceremonies, there will be a free hot dog barbecue in Brigham Square sponsored by BYUSA.

Later in the evening, students can participate in the hike and lighting of the Y. Students should meet at the Hinckley Alumni Center at 6 p.m. to carpool up to the trailhead. Cookies and music will be provided.

Roy Peterman, grounds director, will talk to students about the tradition before they begin hiking.

The Y, constructed in 1906, was first lit in 1923, with mattress batting soaked in diesel fuel. Today, a generator is placed at the base of the Y to power the light strands. The first 150 students will have an opportunity to screw in one of the light bulbs. The lights will remain lit until midnight, shining as a sign of the beginning of Homecoming.

Peterman said the Y signifies the unity of students. It used to be lit for Y Days, an event that gave students the opportunity to serve the community. But it also acts as a lighthouse or a beacon.

“Students and visitors get down in this very dense campus and they almost feel lost, but they can always look to the east and see the Y on the mountain and get a sense of direction and place,” Peterman said.

The shape of the Y can also evoke that sense of peace. Peterman said it is in the shape of a Banyan tree, like a giant umbrella.

“The Y is like a safe haven from the world,” Peterman said.

Besides lighting the Y, two other popular Homecoming celebrations at BYU are the Mr. BYU competition and True Blue Foam Football.

Mr. BYU is a lighthearted pageant where male students compete for the title of Mr. BYU, Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Joseph Smith Building auditorium. Contestants will showcase their talents and a panel of judges, including faculty members and last year’s Mr. BYU, Eliot Wood, will ask questions and choose a winner.

This year, nine competitors will perform to music and dances centered around “The Bachelorette” theme and try to win the affection of a secret guest judge.

Thirty students auditioned for the chance to enter the competition. Before being selected for the final competition, they had to participate in a service project. Lexi Lallatin, event lead for the competition, said some students volunteered for Utah Healing Arts Program, while others tutored young students. They will present their projects during the competition.

“Charisma is definitely a big factor,” said Kelsey Page, an executive director over the pageant, when asked about what the judges look for.

They will have to entertain the audience and the judges to win. Wood, last year’s winner, won with his impersonations of famous movie characters from movies such as Disney’s “Aladdin.”

Another well-known BYU homecoming tradition is True Blue Foam Football, which will be Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Helaman Field.

Thousands of students flock to play in the foam football game, which Logan Mann, the campus involvement coordinator at student leadership, called “utterly and ridiculously popular.”

Students can join in games of tug or war, slip down a water slide or play in a casual game of football.

Originally, the event was a mud football tournament, Mann said. Now they use a safer substance, a soapy fire foam that is dyed blue to show real Cougar spirit.

“It is a very high energy activity,”  said Abraham Kim, executive director of activities for BYUSA.

Ice cream sandwiches and water will be served to re-energize participants.

Students should know the blue dye can stain clothes and skin. John Quist, who works for grounds crew, has ordered the foam for the event for 12 years.

“People have complained that it stains their armpits for like two weeks,” Quist said.

For that reason, there will be a water truck for students to wash off. There will also be an area set aside for backpacks and plastic bags will be provided for cell phones.

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