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Bonfire Tradition in Cajun Country
2003-12-25
Another Cajun Christmas tradition in the Bayou Country - The lighting of the Bonfires...I went on my Weekly visit to see my Dad in Gramercy, LA on Wed. Dec 17th. While there I decided to take a few pics of the Bonfires. This is the Bonfire Capital of the World. It's an old tradition where we would build bonfires which we light on Christmas Eve to show Papa Noel or St. Nick or Santa Claus the way to our homes... Some say it was to light the way to midnight mass... Anyway it's been a tradition for a long time... Still goin on today. Although, there are now restrictions (insurance and stuff). Bonfires are now limited to 20' in height and the kids have to have a permit. Today, I counted 78 bonfires along a three mile stretch of the river road along the MS River between Gramercy, Lutcher & Paulina. Most of the bonbfires are teepee shape like the one in the first pics. Others are built with a little more flair or themes... Here's teepee shape one of my nephew & friends built. One of my brothers painted the Sugar Bowl emblems for the LSU vs Oklahoma National Championship game on Jan. 4th. He plans to paint the green football field around the 50 yard line insignas... Here's a fire truck... Here's a shrimp boat... When I was a kid, we used diesel fuel to light them. Now a days they still use diesel fuel on the insides. However, they line the outside with fire crackers and set those off as a fuse to ignite the bonfires. In the old days, we would cover the outsides with cane reed (bamboo). The bamboo would pop and that was our fireworks... ----------------------------------------- ..... We went back on Christmas Eve for the Lighting. I cooked a 30 quart Seafood Gumbo and brought to my sister's open house along the river road. We had around 35 members of our immediate family there. We have a private midnight mass and take in the lighting of the bonfires in Gramercy and than travel to Paulina to visit my mother-in-law (who also has an open house) for more celebration and watching bonfires there... Here's my original post: http://www.prowleronline.com/ubb/Forum8/HTML/003882.html Checkout more pics in the scrapbook: Here's some pics from Christmas eve...
My Nephew Dustin (Chip) bonfire. This is the most common type structure (teepee shape). His Dad (my brother Sidney) did the painting of the Sugar Bowl emblem for the National Chamipionship game between LSU & Oklahoma on Sunday, Jan. 4th, 2004...
Fire truck Bonfire
Shrimp Boat bonfire
Some of the Bonfires in Gramercy...
One of the Bonfires we'd watch the lighting at 7:00 pm on Christmas Eve...
Closeup of all the strings of firecrackers that will help ignite the bonfire. There's 55 gallons of diesel fuel inside the Bonfire poured over the logs. Just before the lighting, tey would add 10 strings of firecrackers going down the levee to use as a fuse... The sounds of the poping firecrackers is deafning...
Large crowds come to view the tradtion each year. This year's crowd estimated at 40,000...
Looking down river...
The ignition of one with lots of firecrackers...
Let there be fire...
Looks like it is burning well...
Looking up river...
ooohhh & aaahhss from the crowd as the firecrackers explode and the bonfires burst into flames...
Our family watching with visitors from NY & CA...
The firecracker fuses are lit...
Almost to the bonfire...
To the base of the Bonfire...
We have ignition...
Fire working it's way up bonfire...
Bonfire on the right started little earlier...
Fire on the left. Started after one on the right so each could get there 15 minutes of fame...
Putting out a little heat on a cool Christmas Eve night here in Bayou country... temps were around 50 degrees with mild North winds...
Another Bonfire in Paulina built by my Brother-in-law and sons in front of my Mother-in-law house...
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