Friday, January 9, 2009

Up in Flames

Well, Christmas is finally over.

I know. For the rest of you, it's been over for at least two weeks. But here in Solvang, the season doesn't end until we've burned all the trees.

Every year the fire department encourages people to throw their Christmas trees on the acreage in front of the Old Mission Santa Ines. Then on the 2nd Friday night in January, close to a thousand of us gather on the lawn to watch our trees burn.

It's pretty frightening to see how quickly an old Christmas tree can ignite! The firemen always pull out a few to show us how important it is to keep them watered, etc. But that's not what we're there to see. We want to feel the scorching heat of a thousand trees burning in our faces.

And believe me, once the trees light up, everyone backs away. The heat is incredible. It feels like you could get a sunburn just watching the flames! Twenty minutes later, the fire dies down and people start walking home, stopping to smile and talk to friends.

It's a unique way to bring closure to the season. I wouldn't miss it for anything.


Sarah Laurenson said...

That is very cool. And your description reminds me of what it's like to go to the Backdraft 'ride' at Universal. I always do Jurassic Park first and then Backdraft, so I can dry off in the intense heat. But to have that be a bonfire of pine trees? Awesome. What a great way to end the season.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Hey, this is awesome! You should put something like this in a story someday. I had no idea people did this... what an interesting tradition! I wish they did something like that around here.

I love your posts. You always have such great things to talk about. :)

PJ Hoover said...

I love the feel of a real fire like this. So hot you don't want to get near, but still want to feel the heat.
As long as it's controlled :)

Rena Jones said...

That's cool the FD does this. I moved from Ventura County in CA to the forest of MT, so I basically switched from brushfires to forest fires. Believe me, forest fires are scary. Pines go so quickly. That's why we finally opted on an artificial Christmas tree. The fire danger was just too big.

Kelly Polark said...

Whoa, when I saw the picture before reading, I got worried for a moment!
That sounds like a cool way to bring people together!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Sarah, we are taking the kids to Universal over MLK weekend -- I'll keep that tip in mind!

Glam, thanks, it's this small town thing -- lots of fodder for my blog :)

PJ, I love the intense heat too. And I'm SO happy to have the firemen there -- long after the rest of us have gone home!

Rena, we get our share of wildfires here, too. We had one burn all summer almost two years ago. That's why we're so glad the fire department does it for us!

Kelly, it's actually a *hot* way to bring us all together :)

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