PPC spreads football hype during annual bonfire and pep rally


Alyssa Carnevali | Staff Photographer

Members of the Pitt Dance team perform during the Pitt Program Council’s annual bonfire and pep rally Tuesday night.

By Jessica McKenzie, Culture Editor

Pitt is blazing with football pride.

Pitt Program Council hosted their annual bonfire and pep rally Tuesday night on the Cathedral Lawn in anticipation for Thursday’s Pitt vs. WVU football game. Thousands of students, alumni and other Pitt fans gathered while the Pitt dance and cheer teams danced to pop tunes on stage alongside Roc the Panther. The Pitt Band also played from the side of the stage.

Emaya Anand, PPC’s special events director, said before the event that one of the organization’s goals for this year’s bonfire and pep rally was to make it more student-oriented than in years past. 

“We’re going to have a lot more students up on stage giving pep talks this year, including members of Pitt Program Council,” Anand said. “It’s gonna be a lot of, ‘Hey, you are all ambitious, incredible Pitt students that are coming to a school that prides itself on pride, and as the reigning ACC champs, we have a lot of pride.”

Photos: Annual bonfire and pep rally

The event featured speeches from student leaders such as Danielle Floyd, Student Government Board president, Abby Dean, president of Blue and Gold Society, Macie Berkley, Black Action Society president, and Corie Miller, PPC’s executive board director, as well as Anand.

During her pep talk, Anand encouraged the student body to go all out during Thursday’s game by showing school spirit in the student section of Acrisure Stadium. 

“It’s time to send WVU back down the country roads they came on,” Anand said to the crowd.

In addition to student speakers, Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, football head coach Pat Narduzzi and the football team hyped up the student body for Thursday’s game. Jack Fisher, the leader of Pitt’s student section, called on the first-years in the audience to learn Pitt’s “touchdown dance,” first-down chant and the lyrics to Pitt’s alma mater. The Pitt football players later danced onstage with the crowd to Mac Miller’s “Party On Fifth Ave.”

PPC shot fireworks and pyrotechnics over the Cathedral at the end of the night, and simultaneously lit the bonfire on the Cathedral Lawn. The football team led the crowd in a singalong to Pitt’s football anthem, “Sweet Caroline,” which is played during the third quarter of every game.

Ayanna Bell, a first-year biological sciences major, said the bonfire and pep rally confirmed that Pitt’s school spirit was what she’d hoped as she was preparing for her first year of college.

“My favorite part was watching Roc the Panther dance,” Bell said. “I love it. Pitt’s doing a great job at everything 一 it actually is fun. You see how much fun it seems online and it’s exactly the same in-person.”

Heidi Keyser, a first-year undecided major, agreed and said Pitt’s school spirit was even more abundant than she imagined before coming here. She added that she and her friends bought football season tickets as soon as they became available.

“I knew when I came here that the school spirit was gonna be aggressive, but when I actually got here, it was so much more than I thought,” Keyser said. “I’m so happy about this. I love the energy.”

Anand said the bonfire and pep rally was a great way to kick off the Pitt football season 一 and to honor a University tradition.

“The annual bonfire pep rally is the first event that is an expression of Pitt pride,” Anand said. “It’s common at many colleges to celebrate the football team, but I think doing a whole bonfire, having it be an annual tradition for multiple years, is a great way to get people excited about the upcoming semester.”

The bonfire also assures first-years that they chose a school with a vibrant, exciting student body, Anand said.

“It’s just a good chance to be like, ‘Hey, look at how cool we could be.’ When when I was a freshman, I was very like, ‘Okay, well how are the students, like, are they fun?’” Anand said. “This is just a good way to show what we can do, how hyped and excited we can be.”