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Big Game 'Nonfire Rally' to feature laser show

STANFORD -- To the relief of the campus salamander population, Stanford's Big Game bonfire will be replaced this year by a revved-up football rally and laser show in front of Hoover Tower, the Stanford Axe Committee has announced.

The free public "Nonfire Rally" - set to begin at about 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18 - will feature appearances by Stanford President Gerhard Casper, head football coach Bill Walsh, senior members of the football team, cheerleaders, a cappella singing groups and the Incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band.

Lasers will scan the sky and project digitized images onto Hoover Tower, fog machines will billow, and the show will culminate with some ground-level fireworks.

"There are some lighting effects that should be quite spectacular," said senior Steve Zika, Axe Committee chairman.

"I wish we were having the bonfire instead, but this is the best possible substitute. I think it's going to be quite an extravaganza of sound and light."

Last month, Stanford's Axe Committee canceled the traditional bonfire after learning that its usual site, the dry Lagunita lakebed, is one of the last toeholds of the threatened California tiger salamander.

Since then, biology students have begun a campaign to help the black and yellow amphibians: Some are participating in ongoing studies of the population, while others are trying to organize a salamander "escort service" to carry the animals to and from their breeding grounds across Junipero Serra Boulevard.

One student even told the San Francisco Chronicle that the tiger salamander wouldn't be a bad mascot for the university. "Not everybody likes the dancing tree [mascot] anyway," said Duncan Elkins, a senior majoring in biology.

Mascot or no mascot, the Axe Committee is pushing ahead with its plans to celebrate this year's Cardinal-Bears football showdown, which kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, in Stanford Stadium.

Among the other events scheduled for Big Game week:

  • The eighth annual Big Game Sing-Off, a fast-paced battle between a cappella singing groups from both schools, at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, in Burnham Pavilion;
  • Big Game Gaieties, Stanford's annual student-written musical spoof of the Cal-Stanford rivalry, at 7 p.m. Nov. 17-19, in Memorial Auditorium;
  • The Stanford Buck/Cardinal Club Red and White Ball, on Friday, Nov. 19, in Burnham Pavilion. The evening will include dinner, dance and a live auction. Tickets are $150, $250 and $350, with proceeds going to athletic scholarships at Stanford.

More information can be obtained from the Tresidder Union Ticket Office, (415) 723-4317.



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