BYU Homecoming tradition continues with lighting the Y

Maddi Driggs
Students and alumni hike up the ‘Y’ trail to light the ‘Y’. The mountainside was originally lit by soaked mattress padding and gasoline (Universe Photo)

BYU will continue a homecoming tradition that has been with the university for the past 91 years on Tuesday Oct. 6, 2015. Students and alumni will hike up Y mountain trail to the 380-foot Y painted on the landmark rock-side for next week’s homecoming activities.

Rachel Murdock, activities area assistant at the Hinckley Alumni Center, said the birth of this tradition was during BYU Homecoming of 1924.

The original idea was to put the letters of BYU on the mountain, but it turned into such a big project they kept it as the Y that is now on the mountain.

It was originally lit by a group of college students with gasoline soaked mattress padding. Murdock said there was never any hazard that came from lighting the Y this way.

“They would line the perimeter of the Y with this padding and they would light it on fire,” Murdock said.

Even though it was only started by a group of college students, the lighting of the Y became an official ceremony. They would light it for the start of classes in the fall and for homecoming week.

“Y days” is what they called the days during homecoming week. As part of those Y days, students would go up the trail and light the Y on the mountainside.

Maddi Driggs
Students line the ‘Y’ with lights during Homecoming week. This has been a tradition since 1924 (Angela Decker)

It stays lit all through homecoming week and during all the activities that take place on campus.

Rachel Murdock said in the previous year, several students and alumni attended the event.

“Last year we had between 600 and 800,” Murdock said. “Yeah, a lot of people come to hike with us.”

She also said that they now light the Y with a cable that has lightbulbs strung along it.

When it is time for the event, BYU grounds crew will go up the trail and set the cable and lights around the Y.

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