Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween and all that

The Halloween festival is only around the corner. When I was young I enjoyed Halloween night and most especially the bonfire. I don’t know why I enjoyed it so much. The community would come together, the fire would be lit and I and my friends would stand and watch in amazement. At least that’s what I remember. In recent years the atmosphere at bonfires has changed. A more anti-social dimension has emerged. Mini bonfires involving burning of people’s unwanted furniture and other items have devastated green areas and open spaces in the heart of housing estates. Binge drinking by teenagers has also become a feature at many.

This year a number of communities are making a concerted effort to stop bonfires. Not by hoping they will go away but by providing alternative entertainment for children. I attended a meeting of residents from the Larchville and Lisduggan estates tonight. They have long been working for an alterative to the bonfire. This year they have the support of the council, the Gardaí and local businesses. They also have the support of most of the community. A fancy dress party and other events will form part of a celebratory occasion in the local community hall. At last Halloween will be given back to the children.

As I said earlier when I was growing up I enjoyed bonfires. But times and circumstances have changed. We have become more environmentally aware and burning waste, rubber and other substances is not good for the environment. They also leave ugly craters in green areas. I have already mentioned the anti-social behaviour issues. It is time we move away from bonfires and support communities in providing alternatives that allow young children to celebrate Halloween in a different way. It is going to difficult but we must start and I commend those communities who have begun to do so.

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