Nearly 150 students and parents gathered for the annual bonfire...

Nearly 150 students and parents gathered for the annual bonfire to kick off homecoming week at Southampton High School. (Sept. 24, 2013) Credit: Brittany Wait

While flames reflected in her eyes, McKenna Pierson — wearing a Southampton Mariners shirt — listened closely as wooden pallets and stacked bales of hay crackled before her.

“I remember when I graduated [in 1995] and they would throw in old desks and chairs in our bonfire,” said Pierson, 36, of Southampton. “The flames were much higher then.”

Pierson was among the nearly 150 family members and students who gathered for Southampton High School’s annual bonfire on Tuesday, kicking off homecoming week.

Much of the crowd stayed for the fireworks and bonfire after cheering on the women’s field hockey team, which beat Hampton Bays 5-0. Pierson cheered on her niece, 14-year-old Shelby Pierson, who later watched the pile ablaze alongside her.

Jim Darby, a 1960 graduate of the school, said the school’s homecoming bonfires were much different back in his day — involving more troublemaking and rebellious acts.

“Girlfriends wore their boyfriends' jerseys,” said Darby, 71, of Southampton. “And we would dress a scarecrow as our rival, the Riverhead Blue Waves, and throw it in the fire. We got away with a lot, but it was all in good fun.”

Sara Smith, student council adviser and organizer of homecoming week, said the pep rally is Friday at 12:45 p.m., the parade featuring student-made floats is at 5:30 p.m., the football game against Greenport is at 7 p.m., and the dance is on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We’ve still got a long week ahead of us,” Smith said. “It’s so exciting.”

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