NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 9, 2014

Up in flames

Annual bonfire bash brings the community together

Editor's note: This event has been postponed until Saturday, Jan. 25.

This weekend, Newbury will wave goodbye to the holiday season in dramatic fashion.

For the fourth year in a row, three to five stories of Christmas trees will be burned during Saturday’s Old Newbury Bonfire Bash.

“You can see this fire from space,” said Nathan Walker, a captain in the Newbury Fire Department.

A fundraiser for Newbury Fire Rescue, the annual event is a collaboration between the volunteer fire company, Historic New England and Tendercrop Farm.

The fire stations in Newbury and Byfield have been collecting trees over the past couple of weeks and will continue to accept them at 3 Morgan Ave. until 10 a.m. tomorrow, Walker said. Trees can also be brought directly to Tendercrop tomorrow and Saturday.

The bonfire will be lit around 5 p.m. on Tendercrop’s growing fields, depending on the wind and the crowd, which included 6,800 people last year. Although showers are in the forecast for Saturday, the event is rain or shine, Walker said.

“Christmas trees will burn no matter what,” he said.

In fact, the bonfire will continue long after the last guest has departed for the evening.

“Most of us will be attending the fire until the wee hours of the morning,” said Walker, who added that firefighters will use “a couple of thousand gallons” of water and move the trees around with an excavator to slow the flames down.

“When it first goes up, it’s incredible. It’s just enormous,” said Bethany Groff, regional manager for Historic New England. “It burns really brilliantly for a while.”

The celebration built around the bonfire fully embraces the holiday theme, with activities including a Christmas tree toss and kissing ball cornhole, complete with a special board crafted by firefighters.

“We put Christmas to bed in a really fun way,” Groff said. “It’s wonderful to see everybody bundled up and outside having such a good time.”

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