The Tiger Burn, a staple of the Carolina-Clemson Rivalry, returned this year after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organizers of this year's burn wanted to create a bigger event than had been held in the past, adding food trucks, a live band and fireworks.
"We just know historically that students come and go at this event – they don't really have a reason to want to stay beyond the tiger. And so that gave us a great opportunity to kind of just revamp it a little bit," Courtney Buzan, assistant director for campus programs at the Department of Student Life, said.
Standing over 31 feet tall and 12 feet across at its widest, this year's tiger was the tallest ever built, according to Ross McDaniel, president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers club at USC and head of the tiger burn project.
The design for the tiger is usually created in September, but this year's design was the winner of a contest held last year when the burn was canceled due to COVID-19, according to McDaniel.
"So we kind of skipped over that step, but it was interesting because what we actually ended up doing was sort of reverse engineering a way to create the competition winner design," McDaniel said.
A fourth-year mechanical engineering student, McDaniel said helping with the last Tiger Burn in 2019 was "the most fun part" of his sophomore year.
"I was really excited to come back and be able to do this again, especially this year with how everyone feels about our chances against playing Clemson," McDaniel said.
Around 25 to 30 club members participated, according to McDaniel. The tiger is built in sections for easy transport and then assembled at the field the morning of the burn. McDaniel said the team has been working between 15 and 20 hours a week for the past month.
According to third-year mechanical engineering student and club member Ricardo De La Paz, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers helped with the visual design of the tiger and the wrapping of the structure.
This was De La Paz's first year being involved with the burn. He said about a dozen club members participated.
"I feel proud to know that I put effort and contributed to this. So I feel good. And I just, I really just want to burn it," De La Paz said before the event.
According to lead singer of Opus and the Frequencies, Tony Williams, the live music added for this year was made up entirely of USC graduates.
Williams graduated in 2020 and said playing the Tiger Burn was "a dream come true."
"Now I'm an alum that gets to play for this event that I never got to go to," Williams said.
Head football coach Shane Beamer attended the event. According to Buzan, after the burn's previous location at the Greene Street intramural fields was turned into a parking lot, Beamer suggested using the fields on Bluff Road across the street from Williams-Brice Stadium.
"I know how important this rivalry is to you. I can promise you, we're going to give our very best effort out there on Saturday night. Appreciate y'all's help as well, and the energy and support that you give our football program. And for the advantage you give us out there in that stadium when we play games," Beamer said while addressing the crowd.
Carolina will face Clemson at Williams-Brice on Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m.