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BYU lights the Y with new tradition

By Braley Dodson daily Herald - | Oct 12, 2016
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BYU students enjoy themselves as they walk up the Y Trail with lanterns Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. The new tradition has students walking up to the Y on the mountain and counting down until it is lit up. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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The Y trail is seen after BYU lights up the famous Y Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. The Y was put into place on the mountain in 1906, making it 100 years old. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Cosmo the Cougar poses with BYU fans Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. As students prepared for the Y hike that would light the Y, lanterns were brought in, donuts were given out and festivities ensued. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Students as well as BYU fans make their way up the Y Trail to light the Y Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. As students and BYU fans climbed up the mountain, the trail of their lanterns left a zig zag of light that could be seen from almost all points in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Students as well as BYU fans make their way up the Y Trail to light the Y Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. As students and BYU fans climbed up the mountain, the trail of their lanterns left a zig zag of light that could be seen from almost all points in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Students as well as BYU fans make their way up the Y Trail to light the Y Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. As students and BYU fans climbed up the mountain, the trail of their lanterns left a zig zag of light that could be seen from almost all points in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Students as well as BYU fans make their way up the Y Trail to light the Y Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. As students and BYU fans climbed up the mountain, the trail of their lanterns left a zig zag of light that could be seen from almost all points in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Students as well as BYU fans make their way up the Y Trail to light the Y Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. As students and BYU fans climbed up the mountain, the trail of their lanterns left a zig zag of light that could be seen from almost all points in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Students as well as BYU fans make their way up the Y Trail to light the Y Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. As students and BYU fans climbed up the mountain, the trail of their lanterns left a zig zag of light that could be seen from almost all points in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Students as well as BYU fans make their way up the Y Trail to light the Y Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Provo. As students and BYU fans climbed up the mountain, the trail of their lanterns left a zig zag of light that could be seen from almost all points in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

Norman Christensen didn’t have to hike up to the Y on a rainy fall day in the late ’70s.

But Kathy, the woman he was dating, wanted to go up the trail and watch the Y be lit for Homecoming.

At the top of the trail it started to sprinkle, and Christensen helped the Intercollegiate Knight pages light balls of mattress fluff on fire in the drizzle.

“We’re walking back down in the dark and everything was so slippery,” Christensen said. “We kept slipping and sliding, we had mud up our slacks and our jeans and were an absolute mess. We were soaked by the time we went home.”

When he dropped Kathy off muddy and dripping wet, her roommate was shocked.

“It must have worked out OK,” Christensen said, “because we’ve been married over 33 years.”

Brigham Young University started a new tradition Tuesday evening as students hiked up to the large, white letter on Y Mountain with commemorative LED lanterns. 

It was the first lighting of the Y following the installation of permanent lighting on Y Mountain this summer and the university’s acquisition of the entire Y trail.

Matt Richardson, vice president of advancement at BYU, said the new lantern tradition is a way to honor and mimic the old snake of light the students used to create by carrying torches up the mountain and lighting balls of mattress fluff on fire to light the Y.

“It is an opportunity to celebrate the traditions of the past and incorporate with the visions for the future,” he said.

Christensen, a member of the Intercollegiate Knight Society for BYU who graduated in 1981, first lit the Y when he was a page for the society. The group would hike up the trail to the Y while the sun was still up with balls of mattress fluff mixed with oil.

“They used to call it goop,” said Christensen, who lives in North Ogden. “It was just a mess.”

The balls would be placed five or six feet away from each other. The pages would wait for a signal from the valley, then light the balls to light the Y. The flames would give off a yellow glow, and the individual balls could be spotted from the campus.

The Y, which has been lit for more than 90 years, will be lit every night during Homecoming week.

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