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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Annual bonfire promises to be biggest ever with The Misfits coming

The Misfits, set to play at this years fifth annual bonfire. Photo courtesy of The Misfits

The most popular, most famous music act to ever play at FAU’s annual bonfire didn’t need to be convinced to come here.

It was the other way around.

The man now in charge of the bonfire, Student Government Coordinator Mike Burdman, remembers last year’s bonfire and the misery that accompanied it. After weeks of promotion, the event had to be rescheduled because of a potential hurricane, and weeks later, his uncle Jerry told him how much he wanted to play the event next time.

And while he happens to be Uncle Jerry to Burdman, to others he’s simply Jerry Only, the lead singer of The Misfits.

“I never would have thought he’d be interested in playing a bonfire,” Burdman says. “Back then, I told him I don’t have a lot of money for this event. He said, ‘whatever, just pay us enough to cover expenses for the band.’”

Since 2008, the bonfire has been an annual event with a music act, and what started off as an event with music coming from OwlRadio evolved into local bands playing, and is now, well, something different.

“What kind of music do they play?” former coach Howard Schnellenberger asks. He started the bonfire tradition in 2001, before the football team had its first game.

They play, what Burdman describes as, punk-horror. They’ve been around since 1977 and have made seven studio albums. “The band, the symbol, their logo, it’s recognized all around the world,” Burdman says. “It’s almost iconic at this point.” And if this all feels very different to Schnellenberger, very hard to believe, that would make sense.



Ambassador-at-large Howard Schnellenberger. Photo by Christine Capozziello 

“Before they played an interscholastic football game,” Schnellenberger says, “the students had to practice having a bonfire before they did it for real.”

He wasn’t joking, and before FAU had ever played a game in 2001, its old coach wanted bonfire practice. It was an easy way to sell his team, and he didn’t want them looking like amateurs when the rest of the world showed up to watch.

So Schnellenberger would send his assistant coaches out behind the Oxley Center with simple instructions: build and burn.

“Our goal was to have the biggest, tallest bonfire that’s ever been in this county,” Schnellenberger says.

Ambitious though it was, the fire department wasn’t having any of it, particularly Jim Slowiak, a firefighter driver for 38 years.

“We’d stack it up there, and Slowiak came out there with his fire truck and he’d say, ‘ah, that’s too high, go up there and take all five pallets and throw ‘em down,’” Schnellenberger says. “We’d go down and throw them on the side. We’d leave, he’d leave, we’d come back and stack ‘em up.”

But not for long.

“Somehow this pile` grew to about 14, maybe 15 feet high,” Slowiak says.

He had permission to have the pile 10 feet high.

“That bastard came back again,” Schnellenberger says. “We’d have to take them down again. This time we didn’t put them back up until the night before the pep rally, after dark.”

“We left it,” Slowiak says laughing. “If it was any bit higher we would have probably said something. The fire marshal was there and he was shaking his head.”

And with Schnellenberger’s guiding hand, the bonfire that was once an event with miscues and gaffes galore — one time Burdman had to chuck a gascan into the pile to start the fire, another time an assistant coach’s son had his eyebrows burnt off he was so close to it — is no longer so.



Student Government Coordinator Mike Burdman draped in one of 1,000 Misfits giveaway shirts for this year’s bonfire. Photo by Michelle Friswell.

There’s going to be a burning head at this year’s bonfire. There usually is.

That’s because every year the football team’s first opponent has its mascot built and burned in effigy. This year’s happens to be a seahawk (the Owls play Warner in the first game), and the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega is in charge of compiling it.

“The hardest part is actually just getting the pile big,” Alexander Smith, a senior multimedia film and video major in the fraternity says. “We’ll go three hours straight, 10 to 15 people.”

According to Smith, it takes about 25 hours to build the pile and mascot, and his fraternity works in shifts, late into the night, but for a reason.

“Every year the best feeling is actually topping it,” he says. “Everyone’s all excited at the bonfire site and we always roll up with the cops, they kind of give us an escort down into the ditch where it’s at, and we kind of need everyone we can get. The coolest feeling is seeing Howard out there and the football players and all the kids so excited — it makes it worth it.”

Last year, the band that played (Stampede Movement) cost $1,000 to come. This year, it cost $4,000 to get The Misfits, according to Burdman. Typically, the band charges upwards of $15,000 for a show, he says.

But between the 1,000 T-shirts and the kind of music that’ll be heard throughout campus given the sound system the band is bringing, Burdman isn’t worried.

“This one here it’s like, what’s the setlist going to be, how’d you get The Misfits, please play American Psycho,” Burdman says. “I haven’t got any negative feedback yet. I think everyone who goes to the show has a good time watching them. They’re entertaining, they have all the makeup.”

Senior political science major Michael Turtz, who’s attended the last four bonfires, remembers the first thought he had upon hearing of this year’s act The Misfits.

“Who are they?” he remembers thinking. “I looked them up on Wikipedia, they’re actually bigger than I thought. A lot of my friends know they are, some of them are excited.”

“I am too”, Turtz says, “to a degree.”

Even still, Burdman has a prediction.

“This will be the largest, most attended, most exciting bonfire that FAU has seen thus far.”


Your Thoughts?

Jain Arosas, sophomore education major. All photos by Christine Capozziello.




“This year I actually wanna go.”





Ben Scaramuzzino, sophomore economics major.




“Sounds like a pretty good time.”




Jazmine Lawrence, freshman journalism major.




“Never heard of them.”




Mikayla Larson, sophomore journalism major.




“Whoever managed to book The Misfits is my new personal idol.”




Alecia Hills, freshman pre-business major.




“This is my first time hearing about it, but I’d go.”


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  • J

    Jenny FromdablocJul 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    >in the 70′s
    >the 70′s

    How many current college students were around then? I’m thinking not a whole lot. This is just another stupid purchase pushed by Mike Burdman.

    • D

      DanJul 25, 2012 at 12:51 am

      Hey Jenny, the ROI that FAU will see after bringing the Misfits for $4k will be tremendous. Do you think Jennifer Lopez would play FAU for $4k? Try multiplying that estimate by 12 and you might get her to come “sing” here. Besides, I am willing to bet that there are ten students who will go to see the Misfits for every one student who would go to see J-Lo. Give yourself a Haterade enema because it appears that you are backed up with an incredulous amount of bullshit.

      • J

        Jenny FromdablocJul 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm

        We should get the Beach Boys to come play! I bet they’d do it for $4k and they’re totally relevant to college students 18-25 years old.


  • J

    Jenny FromdablocJul 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Remember when the Misfits were relevant? Oh, you don’t either?

    • F

      Fat owlJul 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      You should check Wikipedia. They were huge and brought punk rock to the united states in the 70’s along with the Ramon’s and sex pistols. They are legends

  • S

    steve1Jul 19, 2012 at 9:08 am

    is this a joke?! the misfits are coming to FAU!?!? I can’t wait for this bon fire – i love this school already!

  • C

    ChemsterJul 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    U mean freakers ball is hip hop…. It’s all good. Great band for a bonfire that’s for sure.

  • S

    SammyJul 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    This is great! Great job getting a rock band! Electronic music is for the foam party and rap/hip hop is for the dreamers ball! I’m glad we finally are mixing it up! Can’t wait to Rick out to the misfits at the fire! Go owls!

  • O

    OwlJul 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    The Misfits are insane. This is probably the best artist to ever come to FAU. I’m extremely glad we didn’t get some looser like Ludacris or Pit bull again. This may make up for all the terrible artists that have played on campus as well as half the things they play on Owl Radio. When will the shirts be available for students?

  • F

    FAU StudentJul 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Sounds like a conflict of interest. As big as the misfits WERE, they are pretty irrelevant to most college students now. And it isn’t even the original lineup! Next year, lets get a relavent musical act…preferably Hip Hop or Electronic because that’s what kids actually like. It’s about the football team and the student body…roughly 5% of that population cares about The Misfits.

    • D

      DaveJul 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Every time they get a hip hop artist they spend like $75000 to play for 300 people… that’s just stupid…

    • D

      DanJul 25, 2012 at 12:43 am

      If you can get one of these hip-hop or electronica artists to perform at FAU for $4,000 then shut your mouth and get it done. We have had Ludacris, Wyclef Jean, Pitbull, Chamillionaire, Flo Rida, Dave Chappelle, Charlie Murphy, Kevin Heart, and countless other hip-hop culture artists perform at FAU. The students who enjoy alternative music are almost always shafted. Art Alexakis? Dashboard Confessional?! New Found Glory?! Really?!?! I’ve seen more metal in my toilet the morning after drinking a fifth of Goldschläger! This year’s bonfire will show Glades Road what they’ve been missing out on all these years.

      The Misfits baby! All of you whiny fake ghetto-ass’d haters can go shit in a hat!

  • D

    DaveJul 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    The misfits usually play for $15,000 huh… do we really not have $15,000 every year to pay for a reputable band to come and play at one of the university’s highest-attended traditions???… couldn’t we get a band like this every year???

    • O

      OwlJul 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      It says they are playing this event for $4000. Sounds like a bargin to me. Way better than those local bands they used to get. Finally some metal!

      • D

        DaveJul 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm

        I know but I’m saying next year and so on, can’t we scrap together 15,000 every year to pay a band like this???

        • D

          DannyJul 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm

          I hear it is 10k, this was last semester from someone who is involved with all that. But it could of changed.

          the 10k comes from everyone’s tuition, The money is pooled and it gets spread around to all the schools clubs, bonfire included.

          Since the Bonfire is taking more money this year everyone has less money for their clubs. Some clubs actually need as much money as they can receive, which every year that gets smaller and smaller. Not all clubs buy just T-shirts and crap to give away.

          Greek Life gets something like 25k+

  • F

    FanJul 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I can’t wait! This is going to be awesome! The misfits kick ass!!!