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BYU Adds centennial "Sunset on the Y" to Homecoming activities

The emblem on Y Mountain above the Brigham Young University campus turns 100 years old this year, and as part of a centennial celebration, alumni and friends are invited to enjoy Sunset on the Y following the Saturday, Oct. 21, Homecoming football game with UNLV.

This hike is an addition to the student hike scheduled Oct. 17.

Those interested in making the Sunset on the Y hike are invited to meet at the base of the mountain following the game. Anyone who completes the climb will receive a commemorative pin that indicates they made the trek during the centennial.

"Those who have hiked the Y in a late afternoon understand how breathtaking the view is from the mountain," says Linda Palmer, executive director of the Alumni House, which is sponsoring the hike. "It's also a wonderful way to renew one of the oldest traditions at the university."

The genesis of the largest college symbol in the nation began in 1906 when the junior class climbed 2,000 feet up the mountain to paint a celebratory '07 on the mountain for the upcoming graduation. The senior class wanted to show its class spirit as well, which produced a jumble of numbers.

As a result, BYU President George H. Brimhall issued a plan to put "BYU" across the mountain in lime powder to satisfy the students. After a day of backbreaking work, only the "Y" had been placed, and the rest of the project was postponed and then canceled.

With the addition of the letter on the mountain, students began hiking its slopes. For decades they have lit the Y to kick off Homecoming week. For a long time, however, that didn't mean flipping a simple switch.

Until the 1970s, the Y was lit using mattress stuffing doused in kerosene. Environmental concerns led the university to construct a small building housing a generator, which easily lights up the strands of lights. Individuals who make the first hike up the Y this year will have the opportunity to help replace light bulbs before the lighting begins.

For more information on Homecoming 2006 activities, visit

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