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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Great bonfire!

Ushering out the old year, greeting the New Year
By Will Collette

This year's bonfire was outstanding, even without the 30-foot tornadoes we had last year. No snow and ice on the ground to feed the twisters. But this year's fire was pretty intense and I could see the heat vortices coming up off the pavement as if reading to repeat last year's action.

The annual New Year's Eve bonfire was once again made possible by Frank "Frankie Pallets" Glista's Herculean effort in shaping a truckload of wooden pallets donated by Arnold's Lumber into a matchstick cathedral. This year, Frank added some nice design elements, including a huge Christmas tree made from scrap lubber in the front and two big spirals on either side.

Frank told me that he was working on the structure almost right up until show time. He said the spiral elements were inspired by last year's tornadoes.

As always, the bonfire was attended by the ever-vigilant, ever-festive Charlestown Fire District. They made sure that the audience was kept safe. This year, Charlestown's Wastewater Management guy, Matt Dowling, who is also a firefighter, got to set the structure alight.

Matt touched off the blaze promptly at 5 PM and within a minute or two, the flames spread throughout the structure. Last year, the area was wet and cold and it seemed to take forever for the fire to get going. Not so this year.

More pictures....

A large and enthusiastic crowd was on hand. Dunkin Donuts donated cocoa and donuts (you were expecting jumbo shrimp?) and lots of folks brought the suggested non-perishable food item to donate to RI-CAN. In these tough times, RI-CAN can use all the help it can get, what with Charlestown's high unemployment, and cuts to federal Food Stamps (a.k.a. SNAP) and extended unemployment benefits.

The fire burned hot and fast. As sections of the structure started to collapse, embers floated high up into the night sky. The audience ooooh'ed and ahhhhhh'ed as each section fell.

I went out into the parking lot to get a long distance shot just after the flames peaked and was amazed to see people streaming in.

Good work, Frank, Parks & Recreation and Charlestown Fire District for another great show.

Here's my final shot of this year's bonfire (note the twister to the left) taken from the far end of the parking area: