I’ve lived in Gloucester since the early 1980s (except 1995-1998, when I lived in CA and NYC) and Vickie has lived here since 1998 … and guess what, neither of us had ever been to the Rockport Bonfire? Why? Oh, lots of reasons; but none of them is reasonable — not after what we witnessed last night!
Kevin St. Peter, who chairs the Rockport Firemen’s Association, asked us to be judges in the Rockport Firemen’s Parade and we accepted. Having produced and promoted hundreds of shows & events, Vickie and I keenly appreciate just how much work it takes to pull off an event of this magnitude and, honestly, it was a true pleasure not having to deal with all the details. Kevin did that. And he dealt with all the crazy-last-minute emergencies that always pop during any large-scale event. Plus he took great care to make sure all the judges got where we were supposed to go and knew what they were supposed to do — because we had no idea.
More importantly, we had absolutely no idea what we’ve been missing all these decades. The breathtaking power and splendor of Rockport’s giant bonfire tore its way into our psyches; seized every ounce of our attention. What struck me at first was how hot it was — those of us in front had to move back as the flames engulfed the outhouse atop the mountain of fiery palates. Turning around I noticed the crowd of several thousand people all stood transfixed — and very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that the blaze was the loudest sound you could hear — and it wasn’t nearly as loud as the band at the bandstand had been a few minutes earlier.
Then I realized just how bright it was. That’s when I took the picture, above. Notice how well everyone is lit — and it’s pitch black outside. No streetlights. Just the bonfire. It’s brighter than Times Square. (See Nicole’s awesome photo of the bonfire itself here.)
Fire has a magical power to captivate us in a way nothing else can. I certainly hope this Rockport tradition lives on forever. Thanks to Kevin St. Peter for throwing a giant party for thousands of people featuring one of the greatest natural spectacles our Earth has to offer — and making it feel as though everything is running perfectly smoothly!