Wellington’s Wildfire welcomes back alumni

Morgana Carroll and Beau Sansom

The light of a single torch illuminated the night sky as it passed along from hand to hand of CWU alumni from as far back as the year 2000 before being used to light the stack of kindling in the firepit. The sound of applause overpowered the sound of the band playing CWU’s alma mater as the first sparks began to crackle. 

“To me [Wellington’s Wildfire] is a time where the wildcat family can really gather,” Director of Alumni & Constituent Relations Casey Ross said. 

Wellington’s Wildfire took place in the McIntyre Hall Lawn East on Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. According to Ross, the event served as an opportunity for students and alumni to gather together.

“On top of academics students have to have a social life to maintain that balance so they’re not so stressed,” said ASCWU Student Life Briana Silva. “That social aspect is important.”

While he doesn’t know the exact number of students who attended Wellington’s Wildfire Ross described the attendance as “off the charts.” Silva estimates over 250 students attended the event.

“I’m enjoying it so far, there’s a lot of different kinds of people,” first year Deanté Barry said. “I see a lot of exchange students here, and it’s nice that they get to know the campus and the event.”

This year marked the first appearance of a new homecoming ritual; the passing of the torch, where a student from each graduating year since 2000 passed the torch on its way to the bonfire. Ross said he was the one to come up with this new ritual.

“I was looking for a ways where we can connect the alumni and the students in ways that are meaningful for the alumnis and are meaningful to the students,” Ross said.

Ross said while there were only alumni from 2000 onward, in the future he would like to get a representative of every graduating class available. 

Rodrigo Castaneda-Marin Jr., a third year in business administration, said it was nice to see that new students were finally getting to attend in person events of this size again. 

“Hopefully it brings people closer together,” Castaneda-Marin said. “Now that COVID sort of gone they’re able to discover more what campus has to offer and how it was before. This is my first time being here, I started in 2020 so we didn’t have as much opportunities.”

 Ross said he wishes that Wellington’s Wildfire was around when he was a student.

“I’m an alum and graduated in 2002, and I don’t recall having Wellington’s Wildfire when I was a student here,” Ross said. 

Tony Aronica, a returning alumni from 2007 who was on the ASCWU board when the event first started, said he was glad to see the wildfire was still happening every year.

“When I was a student in 2005, we started Wellington’s Wildfire and it’s really endearing to see it continue,” Aronica said. 

Silva said that in the past Wellington’s Wildfire was hosted at Nicholson Pavilion, but due to construction it had to be at McIntyre this year. 

“We did think about Barto, but we didn’t want to burn any grass or trees,” said Silva. “So we thought of putting it in McIntyre just because they have the strip and it’s still in the center of campus.”

Since Silva will only be in the position until June she doesn’t know if the event will be moved back to Nicholson next year, but she says that Nicholson would probably be the best place for it.

Silva is hoping to hear feedback from students on the changes to the event this year. Email ASCWU Student Life with any feedback.