Bonfire Festival 2015



BRENT PENNINGTON The ceremonial lighting of the bonfire at the annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

It’s that time of year again – my favorite season is upon us and, with the changing leaves, shortened days, and falling temperatures, there is no denying that autumn is here.  Of course despite all those natural changes, it wouldn’t really be autumn without that annual rite of passage, the Bonfire Festival at the Scranton Iron Furnaces.

I’ve been attending the bonfire since 2012 and, as I think I say each year, it’s one of my favorite events of the year.  The Iron Furnaces are such a cool site to begin with, and I am always grateful to see the city and county using them as an events space in general.  But the bonfire is the ultimate party there, and in my mind it harkens back to the days when the furnaces were active with their own hellfires burning.

BRENT PENNINGTON The annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

BRENT PENNINGTON "The Greatest Show on Dirt," a children's theater production, performs during the annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

BRENT PENNINGTON A fire twirler performs at the annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

The Bonfire Festival is really a multicultural celebration, with informational displays and an exhibit test on-site to highlight the harvest festival traditions of many cultures.  The number seems to grow each year, and this year even included the ancient Egyptians.  It’s cool stuff!  Then add in theatrical and musical performances, food and drink vendors, and even some fortune tellers, and you can see why it’s a heck of a good time.

But of course the bonfire itself is the centerpiece, and this year in particular the crowd was anxious for the lighting ceremony.  It was a cold night, one of the first we’ve had this year, and the temperature was down in the 40s with a just enough of a breeze to cut through your jacket.  And as much as that pile of sculpture and timber is a symbol of ancient tradition, it was a symbol of warmth!

BRENT PENNINGTON The ceremonial lighting of the bonfire at the annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

BRENT PENNINGTON The ceremonial lighting of the bonfire at the annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

BRENT PENNINGTON The annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

I got a prime spot for the lighting and was able to enjoy the fire for several minutes, soaking in the heat, before it crossed the threshold.  That’s the funny thing about the bonfire – as much as you want to see it lit and warm up next to it, only minutes later it’s a raging inferno that’s much TOO hot to be near, and the same crowd that was pressing in against the barriers is now hurrying away before their eyebrows singe!

We came, we rejoiced.  We ate and drank.  We saw friends and reveled.  And when we left, we made our usual stop atop the furnaces, so we could look down on the festival and the bonfire itself, already beginning to burn itself out.

BRENT PENNINGTON The annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

BRENT PENNINGTON The annual Scranton Bonfire Festival, held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces in downtown Scranton, PA. 17 October 2015

So here’s to the harvest season, to the summer passed and to the spring that awaits us on the far side of winter.  And here’s to the Bonfire Festival and the fine folks at the county who organize it each year – long may this be a Scranton tradition!

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