Fire Jam Rained Out

More stories from Hailey G Boyle


Hailey G. Boyle

The group dances around with sage sticks.

When WZRD planned to have a fire jam on campus, they planned for food, they planned for fun, but they did not plan for rain.

The college radio station wanted to use the fire pit near the PE complex, but a heavy rain storm derailed those intentions. However, the Wizards, as they call themselves were not easily dissuaded. With their blankets and their instruments, they made a makeshift camp outside the Golden Eagles Room. Reminiscent of a hippie protest from the 1960s, they shared food and played music, passing the guitars and drums to whoever wanted to play next.

The freeform jam session started with 90s rock and quickly transitioned to David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.” Passerby’s heard the music and joined in, picking up spare tambourines and hand shakers.

“It looked interesting,” said Kira Williams, an onlooker who joined the jam. “There’s music and a possibly possessed Ouija board.”

Sean Carey, a Wizard, joked that the Ouija cursed the event and brought the rain.

“Weather be damned,” he shouted, “We do what we want.”

While Williams’ friend played, she held a bag of Nordic Runes for fortune telling. The Wizards admitted that these devices would have been more fun with the fire atmosphere.

“I wanted to see the fire, that’s the only disappointment,” said Jeff Brown, another Wizard. He banged on a cymbal with a drumstick as he continued, “For 41 years, we’ve been thinking outside the box and that’s what we’ve done today.”

The day was not completely ruined. WZRD was using the event to raise funds for the NEIU food pantry. Carey gave those who donated a free CD or vinyl record.

Some of the records were donated by High Wheel Records and others were overstock in WZRD’s massive collection.

The evening culminated when the rain stopped and the group went to the quad for the traditional burning of sage sticks.

“It’s to bring back the fire once lost,” said Jonathan Extract, former station manager, then he joked, “And we had sage.”

Sage is held sacred by Native Americans as a cleansing herb. NEIU and, more importantly, the fire pit was built on land sacred to local Native American tribes. The event was held in part to honor that heritage and the sage helped bring the connection home. There is another fire event being held in October that will honor that history as well.

The WZRD spirit is indomitable. Throughout all the hardships they have endured, they remain.

As the sage burned, filling the quad with its distinct smell, the Wizards chanted and walked in a circle, marching as they have for over 40 years, to the beat of their own drum.