GANANOQUE – Smoke shot up into the Gananoque sky behind the Lou Jeffries Arena on Saturday night at around 5:35 p.m.
And within a short period of time, around 100 Christmas trees from this past holiday season, delivered by members of the community, were burned in a safe fashion by the Gananoque Fire Service.
This was as part of the town’s annual Christmas Tree Burn and was held in partnership with the Gananoque Girls Hockey Association, which was hosting the 2023 Waterway Classic Tournament inside the Lou Jeffries Arena at the same time.
The Gananoque Royals hockey team handed out free hot chocolate and donations were accepted.
"We haven’t done this in the last couple of years because of COVID keeping us away from community events like this," said Andrew Kent, the community safety officer with the Gananoque Fire Department.
Kent was joined by seven other local firefighters.
"But we did have one in 2019, and it’s something we’re trying to bring back."
People filtered out from the Lou Jeffries Arena and the Gord Brown Memorial Canada 150 Outdoor Rink, and a small but energetic crowd formed at a safe distance from the piles of burning trees.
"Everybody likes to come and have a bonfire," Kent laughed. "In this case, obviously, it’s in a controlled circumstance with the fire department present, keeping an eye on everything, making sure everyone is safe and enjoying the fire."
(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)
Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times