Decades later, Brison Park’s bonfire memorial continues to pay tribute to the fallen Aggies

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following post was initially published in 2014. It’s been edited to fit the current timeline. To celebrate the fallen Aggies’ lives and recognize their undying Aggie spirit, the City of College Station is placing a dozen candles at the Bonfire Memorial Lights in Brison Park on Friday.  

By Jay Socol ’91, KAMU-FM Executive Director of Broadcast Services

Before and after. Then and now.

A handful of events in our lives are so significant that our perspectives forever change because of them. In Texas A&M’s history, two vivid examples are when women were officially admitted and when Aggie Bonfire collapsed.

It’s been 23 years since the latter — a tragedy that took the lives of 12 Aggies and injured 27, caught the world’s attention and signaled the end of a campus tradition dating back nearly a century.

Among the must-see destinations on the A&M campus is the magnificent yet sobering memorial to the victims— located on the exact site where the logs fell during the early morning hours of Nov. 18, 1999. If you haven’t visited the Bonfire Memorial, I urge you to go — it’s a powerful experience, even if you have no ties to the university.

But did you know there’s another set of memorials in College Station dedicated to the memory of Bonfire collapse victims? Neither did I until just a few years ago.

Brison Park

Tucked alongside Dexter Street in the Southside Historic District, just a few blocks from the A&M campus, is nine-acre Fred Brison Park, a neighborhood oasis that might be the most beautiful and serene green spot in the entire College Station parks system.

Lamp posts and special markers are located around the park’s perimeter. They are dedicated to each of the 12 Bonfire victims — a remembrance project the City of College Station announced a year after the tragedy. If you take the time to check them at all — each bears a name, class year, and hometown — and the centerpiece memorial plaque, you will have strolled around and through the entire park.

I routinely seek out Brison Park when I need to clear my head, escape phone calls and office visits for a few minutes, and enjoy lunch while sitting beneath the giant oaks. So whether it’s on Friday or simply the next beautiful day, I hope you’ll consider discovering the other Bonfire memorials in one of College Station’s finest parks.

In memory of:

Miranda Denise Adams ’02
Christopher D. Breen ’96
Michael Stephen Ebanks ’03
Jeremy Richard Frampton ’99
Jamie Lynn Hand ’03
Christopher Lee Heard ’03
Timothy Doran Kerlee, Jr ’03
Lucas John Kimmel ’03
Bryan A. McClain ’02
Chad A. Powell ’03
Jerry Don Self ’01
<em><strong><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-medium-gray-color">About the Blogger</mark></strong></em>
About the Blogger

Jay Socol ’91 is the associate executive director of broadcast services at KAMU-FM at Texas A&M after serving more than 12 years as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 A&M graduate, Socol covered the 199
9 bonfire tragedy as WTAW radio’s news director. “Twenty-three years have gone by, but the emotions never leave,” he said.

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