Golds carry their sign to the front of Farmer. Photo by Kat Bell
The night before sign raising was scheduled, Jan. 23, Gold Side began the monumental task of moving the largest sign in College Night history. Two hours and almost 2 miles later, the side had accomplished the task months in the making.
Metal doors of the Gold Victory portion of the shop, commonly known as side space, creek as they are rolled up by Rylee Holt, the female Gold Side leader. The stark difference between the warmth inside of the shops and the cold outside was palpable as you could see breath. The sign, a 9 feet x 15 feet x 10-feet rectangular cube, sits perpendicular to the exit.
Eight metal handles are positioned on the edges of the sign to allow for it to be carried.
Aaron Jones, Gold Side technical director, laid out the plan.
The sign would have to be rotated over 90 degrees just to get out of the door. Then moved 300 hundred feet down a dark, gravel path where it would then be lifted into a waiting box truck.
Because the sign was delicate it would have to be carefully picked up and put down every few feet to avoid putting too much stress on any one person, or the sign itself. Sitting on a base, covered in a plywood skirt, the sign was in constant danger of being dragged. If that happened the plywood skirting could very easily break off.
This meant that lifting and setting down the sign had to be carefully coordinated – the dirt road and the dark conditions made this more difficult.
In 10-foot increments the sign began to make its way to the parking lot. Groans came from both the sign and the Gold Side crewmembers carrying the sign under its weight. As the sign moved towards the parking lot the side began to look towards the truck that was waiting to carry sign to in front of Farmer Hall.
The sign has moved about 300 feet. The sun had gone down hours ago and Gold side was ready for the second phase of the move. A 15-foot box truck, rented by the Side’s leaders, sat ready for them in the parking lot.
However, as the final move into the truck started the members began to question whether the 10-foot-tall sign would fit.
Frantically, everyone began to call anyone awake, looking for a truck or trailer large enough to fit the sign.
“I’m not going to make any of you do this,” said Holt as the realization had dawned on her that the sign would have to be moved by hand, “you can leave now if you want and I won’t hold it against you, but we’re going to have to move this by hand. It has to get to Farmer.”
Slowly, the group begins to coordinate the move.
“1, 2, 3, up!” shouted Holt as she begins to direct the 2 mile move to Farmer.
As the sign move closer to Farmer, the side acted with military precision, as they began carrying the sign up the hill on College Drive those not carrying the sign were cheering those carrying it on.
The uneven nature of Montevallo’s brick streets caused new challenges for the sign.
Creeks and groans came from the sign as the crew sat it down on the brick streets by Farmer, revealing that if the sign wouldn’t be able to be set down for long periods of time until they reached the safety of the grass in front of Farmer Hall.
The brick road caused new problems for the sign raising crew, and limited their ability to set it down because it the uneven brick streets
Touchdown. The sign lands in front of Farmer Hall where it will sit until a week after College Night. It stands as the largest sign by a long shot, and marks a drastic change from previous sign which have traditionally been primarily two-dimensional creations, with small 3D elements.
Instead, the Gold Victory Sign for 2020 incorporated a larger interactive element inviting onlookers to interact and take photos with the sign.
Some question whether the sign has gone too far, noting that it no longer resembles a traditional college night sign.
Waid Jones was the editor-in-chief of The Alabamian during the 2019–2020 academic year. In 2018, while managing editor of The Alabamian, he received the Veterans of Influence Rising Star Award from the Birmingham Business Journal. Prior to coming to UM he was in the U.S. Marine Corps for two and a half years. Jones graduated with a degree in political science from UM in 2020. He is currently the news editor for the Jackson County Sentinel in Scottsboro, Alabama.