Jonathan L’Ecuyer / Staff photo – The Gloucester Times, June 11, 2008
Rockport, MA – Bearskin Neck.
Indulge me for a moment on a non BYD rant.
I’ve been to a few of the setups to the annual 4th of July Bonfire in Rockport – the last 10 years, my brother Tim co-created the theme and interesting surprises to happen during the consummation of the 30 foot tall pile of palettes burned by the local Fireman’s association each year. It’s very popular, been the subject of a documentary, and unites the town in a tradition that goes back decades. It’s actually quite a hoot to watch. They also design and sell t-shirts with the current year’s theme, with all the proceeds going to the Firemen’s Association. Everyone volunteers and chips in to have a good time and raise $$$ for a worthy cause.
In 2004, part of the theme included a house on top of the heap, that roof was rigged to ‘explode’ and a snowman attached to a blower would move and gyrate while the flames grew higher. It actually was a cool looking, unexpected design to add some surprise to the regular festivities.
Unfortunately, someone started a rumor that kids were crying in the streets because they were ‘Killing Frosty’ and heartbroken tots had to be consoled by their parents. The next day a few of them called and voiced their complaints to the Sponsor of the event, the Fireman’s Association.
There’s an agreement made by everyone involved to not burn Frosty for future bonfires, so children’s sensibilities aren’t corrupted by any symbolism or humorous intent.
Flash forward to 2007.
A last minute change is made, because of a concern the display’s 2 towers toppers, meant to celebrate Twin Light’s centennial, might be misinterpreted as a symbol of the 9/11 twin towers. Since the whole thing is scheduled to go up in flames, it’s a valid thought.
Instead, a plan is coordinated with the fire department to have Frosty pop out, and the Fire department rescue him. The people who complained in 2004 now think there’s a conspiracy to burn Frosty and the American Way, and decide to take matters into their own hands. More grousing and kvetching continue. So, in the April 2008 Fireman’s Association meeting, they decide to avoid any controversy at all, and go back to the ‘traditional’ donated outhouse at the top of the bonfire. In doing this, they effectively fire the artists who have been designing the event for the last decade.
I do have to give props to my brother – he’s not complaining. He said the artists just volunteer 2 weeks a year doing the event – the Firemen volunteer year round. They deserve the support. He can find another creative project to work on with Richard instead, even thought they’re disappointed that they haven’t been asked to help out on the bonfire for 2008.
So, to cowtow to a few complainers, everyone suffers this year.
I’m hoping that the locals in Rockport will read this (Along with the news and TV coverage that is building on this story) and show their support to the way the bonfire has been held the last 10 years, and let the Fireman’s association know what they’d like to see in their community bonfire.
If you keep quiet, you get what others decide you get. I’d make my opinion known, before it’s too late to change things this year.
Here’s some links to TV and Newspaper coverage, and some You tube videos of past bonfires.
Rant mode off – we now return you to the usual humorous banter.