Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces



A bonfire set amid standing pillars of wood burns at the Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces event, held at the Furnaces on the evening of 20 October 2012.

Events like this are why I love living in Scranton. Last weekend Lackawanna County hosted their 2nd annual Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces, which was one of the most unusual – and most awesome – cultural blendings ever. It was Day of the Dead meets Samhain, combined with fire and general revelry. Does it really get any better than that?

Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces event, held at the Furnaces on the evening of 20 October 2012.

Day of the Dead alter at the Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces event, held at the Furnaces on the evening of 20 October 2012.

There was some really cool stuff happening there – mini hot-air balloons being released every few minutes, carrying the attendees’ wishes skyward; an authentic Day of the Dead alter where people could leave offerings of their own; storytelling; a beer and wine tent; and of course one of the largest bonfires I’ve ever seen.

To be honest, I don’t know of any other place where something like this could be pulled off. First of all, mixing Catholic holy days with Celtic/Pagen holidays doesn’t often happen. And most municipalities blanch at the thought of fire-centric activities, to say nothing of serving alcohol to the public at the same time. I think most places would be so concerned with liability that it would never get off the ground.

"Wishes" suspended from paper balloons begin to head skyward at the Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces event, held at the Furnaces on the evening of 20 October 2012.

An attendee in full Celtic costume at the Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces event, held at the Furnaces on the evening of 20 October 2012.

Thank all the gods that Scranton and Lackawanna County don’t think that way. From what I could see, the event went off without a hitch. And it was a great time – everyone appeared to be having fun. Kids, adults, older folks – the whole demographic was represented and people were lingering, taking part of everything that was there.

The bonfire was pretty cool and I loved the wood beams around it, like a sort of mini Stonehenge. And the storytelling session was excellent; local legends and lore very well presented, by storytellers who had memorized their parts for the night, which is always impressive. Plus a Tom Petty tribute band, which may have been a bit random, but they rocked, so it worked.

A bonfire set amid standing pillars of wood burns at the Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces event, held at the Furnaces on the evening of 20 October 2012.

Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces event, held at the Furnaces on the evening of 20 October 2012.

Bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces event, held at the Furnaces on the evening of 20 October 2012.

As I said before, I love living in a place where this kind of this happens. Believe me, it’s not universal. I can only hope that the annual Bonfire continues for a long time to come. I’ll definitely be back next year!

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