Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fireworks and a Bonfire

Last night, in celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, I joined a group of Stanford and Oxford students in walking over to one of the University parks for the annual bonfire, funfair, and fireworks display. The walk there took a while, since the legions of migrating students and local families had jammed up the roads and sidewalks, and there was still car traffic to worry about. Once we arrived at the park, the crowds had only increased - reminding me very much of the Fourth of July in Albuquerque at the balloon fiesta park. Minus the warm weather, of course. And the balloon glow. Though it was a clear night without rain, it was still quite cold, especially standing out in the dark for forty-five minutes waiting for the fireworks display to start. Some people passed the time with carnival rides, others with food and live music, but come fireworks time we were all gathered, clustered fifty people deep, in front of the Guy Fawkes effigy at one end of the park.

The fireworks display was spectacular and dazzlingly close overhead, and once it finished the effigy was set on fire. Watching it burn, consumed by flames, and then spread to the huge stack of wooden pallets behind it, more than made up for the long wait. It was the biggest bonfire I've seen, around forty feet high, and warmed our faces even from thirty yards away. I suppose all humans are pyromaniacs to some extent, and so my group of Stanford friends stood there for a while, staring in fascination and snapping pictures, until the cold got to us and we decided we'd better tramp on home.

As fun as this (sort of) British equivalent of the Fourth of July was, I still must say that I prefer warm weather, swimming, and barbeques to a cold, dark November night. But still, there's something fun about standing out in the chilly air surrounded by tangible excitement and warm bodies - especially when you get a nice steamy bonfire as a reward at the end, eh?

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