USA in the Morning

Mr Mike's Musings

Bonfire Night!

Bonfire night at school is a big event before the homecoming game. Everyone within a radius of several miles looks forward to it. It blazes with the glory of our institution like a giant outdoor fireplace that burns with a special warmth. It is all about a communal spirit that blossoms on a cool fall night. Everyone turns out: the students and the regional fans.

Building a bonfire is quite an enterprise and a bit harder than stacking wood in a wood stove at home and lighting it in seconds. It takes a specific skill in order to be safe and protect those around it. If you want a fun event, you do not want any accidents. If you prepare in advance, things will go smoothly and you can spent your time cheering the team.

First and foremost a bonfire is big. Think campfire a thousand fold. There is nothing like one at a pep rally to get the local spirit going. You do have to abide by government and local regulations for such things and get a permit. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to consult with the fire department.

You pick a spot that is centrally located but not unduly close to any buildings or vegetation. An asphalt area with an earth bed is best. You then bring in bags of gathered dry leaves, twigs, and wood sticks of any size. Since you need a lot, it is best to do this job on a previous day. Leaves and twigs burn super fast and the wood lasts a bit longer.

If there is an earth bed for the bonfire, you don’t have to dig a pit. In any case, the area should be as big as the fire you want to create. Bonfires vary and they are not all towering infernos. The earth area or pit will then be surrounded with large stones or bricks to contain the fire within the prescribed area. You then take your fuel wood and arrange it in a teepee formation or a pyramid shape. You then ignite it when all safety measures have been taken.

The leaves at the bottom of the pit will burn first and spread upward. Now you and the town can enjoy the blaze and gather together to support the team. There no doubt will be some cheers and school songs to boot. When the evening is over, a team of volunteers should be in charge of dousing the fire to make sure it is 100% out. It might burn down on its own to a few lonely embers or you can dump water on it from a nearby hose or a bucket brigade. You then should throw sand on top and stomp on it to extinguish it completely. By the time people are leaving for their cars, it should be cool to the touch.

There is nothing as much fun in the fall as bonfire night, even Halloween which is a close second and in some parts of the country, this holiday merits its own event.