Well, it’s that time of year again. The days are shorter now. The nights are longer now. The days and nights are colder now. It’s a prequel to a long, cold winter. That’s right! It’s autumn. Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. The crisp autumn air could be perfect for an outdoor bonfire to keep warm.
That’s what the town of Scranton had on Saturday night of October 19th: a bonfire. The Scranton Iron Furnaces in Southside Scranton hosted their 3rd annual Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces from 6pm-11pm. That night, the area in between the iron furnaces and the creek became filled with people, tents, food trucks, and a bandstand.
The iron furnaces were lit with colored lights, which were shining brightly around their arches. There was also a small campfire, where people were sitting on little square bales of hay around it. Lanterns were floating in the sky above the iron furnaces. That’s because volunteers let the bonfire-goers write a wish on a sticker to put on a lantern. Once the sticker was placed on the lantern, one of the volunteers lit the lantern with a blowtorch, and watch it rise up looking like a little hot-air balloon flying freely without direction.
Food was provided by a couple of food trucks, such as What the Fork and Muncheez, which makes special grilled cheese sandwiches. Amberdonia Old World European Bakery, which is located in the Tripp Park section of Scranton, sold Halloween-decorated cookies and cupcakes.
Local bands performed on the bandstand including Coal Town Rounders, The Great Party, and haunting music played by Leo Schott, who plays the Uilleann pipes. There was also a performance by the Double R Twirlettes. They twirled their batons with fire on each end, dancing to the songs, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel and “Firework” by Katy Perry. Other performances included the Dearly Departed Players and Symmetry Dance Company.
But the main attraction was the great, large pile of wooden pallets with a face of a dragon. At 8pm, people flocked to the back of the iron furnaces area, where the dragon was located. They stood there waiting for the Pop Up Studio, who were marching in downtown Scranton, to come and light this monster. For this dragon was the actual bonfire everyone was waiting for.
Once the Pop Up Studio holding flags arrived from the Radisson Hotel, the volunteers poured gasoline all over the pallets. Soon after, a few of the marchers from the Pop Up Studio lit the dragon on fire starting with its sides. Ironically, rain was coming down at the same time, so it was like fire versus water. It took a while for the fire to extend to the dragon’s middle. The sides of the dragon were burning for about ten minutes before spreading. Despite the rain, the fire eventually spread to the middle causing it to become a big conflagration. The people in the front got to feel the intense heat. The fire continued to burn through the whole night. It took a long time, but the dragon was eventually reduced to ashes with only lingering flames flat on the ground.
Back at the small campfire, four actresses from the Scranton Shakespeare Festival were dressed as the scary witches and acted out the famous witch scene from Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. They chanted the whole Double double toil n trouble scene around a black cauldron. They really did the scene justice with the way they were dressed and sounded like witches. The actresses were Nicole Febbraio, Camille Reinecke, April Holgate, and Megan Lasky.
Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces also featured a jack-o’-lantern carving contest. Entries included a pumpkin, which reads The Electric City; a display of a tortured skeleton inside an iron furnace; a pumpkin with a witch carved on it. The winner was The Electric City jack-o’-lantern.
A Day of the Dead community ofrenda was also present at the event. An ofrenda is an altar with photos of deceased family members and friends, very common in Latin American countries, which celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Nov. 2nd). This particular ofrenda commemorated the deceased immigrants, who came to Scranton and worked on the Scranton Iron Furnaces. The ofrenda had candles, flowers, pan de muertos (bread of the dead), and skeletons atop of a bright orange tablecloth. The pan de muertos was from the bakery Floritas located on Cedar Ave. in Scranton.
“I like that they are introducing more cultural things,” said Gaby Martinez, volunteer of Bonfire of the Iron Furnaces.
There was also a display of Diwali, which is the Hindu festival of lights. Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps”. It celebrates good over evil and light over darkness. Tarot card readings were also featured at the event.
Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces had a great turnout. People young and old came and enjoyed this event. It is for people of all ages, including children who are too young for a haunted house.