Sunday, December 25, 2011

Three Miles of Bonfires, Part 2

We ended yesterday's entry saying that it was 6:55 and the siren sounding the "Light the Fires" direction was only five minutes.

However, the use of a siren may have been discontinued, one of the pyramid builders may have been designated as the "starter," one of the builders may have been unable to wait any longer, or...

At any rate, one of the fires was started a bit early, and a barrage of bright "pops" soon followed. (Cane reeds had been used in the past because they smoked heavily, popped and cracked loudly, and sent orange sparks into the air when burning. However, since these pops were so numerous and occurred within moments of starting the fire, we guessed that they were a type of fireworks.)

Also, with the aid of kerosene-soaked scraps inside the pyramids, the structures were immediately engulfed in towering flames.

The bonfires have undergone some significant changes over the years. Initially, the fires consisted solely of an anchored center pole, surrounded by recently cut sugar cane reeds held in place by an encircling wire. Later, builders added scrap wood and rubber tires.

Burning tires?

Fortunately, removing tires from the pyramids was one of the changes made over the years. The structures retained the traditional teepee shape, but with precisely cut logs, became artistic masterpieces.

Looking upriver and seeing about half a dozen fires, I wondered how the scene looked like viewed from Santa's sleigh. What a sight (or navigational tool).

(Note the example of the fireworks at the top of the photo above. We will show more of the fireworks in our New Year's Eve entry.)

Around eight o'clock, the fires changed from the explosive bursts to a steady burn in the pyramids.

We wondered how far into the night the fires would burn.

Heading back to the truck, we assumed that the strategy adopted by some viewers was to proceed slowly along the River Road, getting a glimpse of the entire length of the bonfires.

Looking at the line of headlights, I couldn't help but think of the closing scene in Field of Dreams (the line of headlights snaking toward the [Dyersville] Field) and thinking of the words: "If you build it, they will come."

Seems to fit in Gramercy, Louisiana, also.