LAURINBURG — Dozens of live Christmas trees collected from city curbs this week provided a final episode of seasonal festivity on Thursday night at Legion Park.
It took less than a minute for flames set to the trees by Laurinburg firefighters to engulf the sizable heap, building heat rapidly as they quickly consumed the fir needles and went to work on the framework of knotted trunks.
The wind blew south, sending smoke and embers spiraling toward Crepe Myrtle Avenue. Radiating heat singed grass around the conflagration and kept onlookers well away.
Nearly 100 people attended the event.
“We have three generations out here watching them burn,” said Liz Monroe. “They’re having fun and we ran into their cousins, so it’s a big family affair.”
While waiting for firefighters to shovel burning embers from the bonfire, they watched the flames dance and colors arise from the various substances in the wood.
“There’s something green in there,” was one child’s exclamation.
When firefighters assisted in creating individual fires, out came bags of marshmallows, boxes of graham crackers, and packs of hot dogs, with some flouting convention and enjoying a s’more before a frankfurter. Others were content to hone their marshmallow roasting technique, though many children lacked the patience to achieve an even golden brown.
“Don’t let them catch on fire,” James McCall advised. “When we burn leaves and brush in the yard, the children always want to get coat hangers and do this, so they’re pros at it.
“To me, this is one of the things Scotland County and Laurinburg does that’s unique and that’s fun.”
McCall also noted that the event successfully drew many away from the lure of television and internet for the evening. Though temperatures hovered above 40 degrees, the heat melted any chill-induced stupor and foot races and other games springing up around the flames.
As the fire burned down, firemen agitated it to ensure a thorough burn, and in just over an hour it was reduced to a warm glow through cracks in a pile of ash. Children were given turns spraying water on the remaining debris to douse what was left of the fire.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.