Friday, 11 July 2008

11th July - Woodvale Park

Willow chips, sustainability, and carbon neutral... not terms usually associated with an eleventh night bonfire.

But that's exactly what's involved in the so-called "community beacon", which will replace the traditional bonfire in the Woodvale area of Belfast this year.

It's also one option under consideration in Londonderry to make bonfires both safer and cleaner.

Stephanie Hunter is a community worker in the Caw area of the Waterside.

She recently took a group of local young people to Belfast to see the alternative bonfire at first hand.

"I think coming from this background, young people here feel kind of isolated anyway, so it was good for them to go and see how other communities are working towards changing their bonfire into a more community-friendly and environmentally-friendly event."

She said it was vital young people were included in the process.

"They're the ones who are out there and who are building the thing, so they need to have their say and be involved in the process.

"I think they had their eyes opened, and they're open to seeing alternatives to what they're currently involved in," she said.


DUP Councillor Drew Thompson said that while local people were actively considering alternatives to the traditional bonfire, it could be some time before the beacon caught on in Derry.

"It's always traditional for the Protestant community to have bonfires on the 11th night, and this would appear to be a smaller, more controlled type of bonfire than usual.

"The beacon in Woodvale appears to have a festival type atmosphere and a full programme along with it, which isn't envisaged in our thinking at the moment," he said. BBC:

What is also traditional is property and people being endangered by the huge bonfires and the attacks on the fire service when called to deal with situations that have got out of control. So, yes Mr Thompson let's keep building bigger and bigger bonfires and let's not give consideration to anybody or anything but another outdated tradition.

This is the Woodvale beacon - admittedly it's very small and probably will burn itself out after a few minutes.

Flash Harry (Queen tribute band) who were part of the evening's entertainment at Woodvale Park.

Part of the huge crowd (c: who were entertained by Flash Harry.