Fire lights up Tompkins Sq.


A bonfire in Tompkins Sq. Park burned from about 7 p.m. last Thursday until 3:20 a.m. the next morning. At times the flames grew so high they singed a low-hanging bough of one of the park’s stately old trees. To the pounding of drums and clinking of beer bottles, a 20-something crowd circled the bonfire in a primordial scene, whirling and dancing to the music. Young men, and even some middle-aged men, took turns leaping over the fire. Sometimes they stomped deliberately through the flames, with one man’s pants cuffs repeatedly catching on fire, though he seemed to hardly notice. The fire was fed with a palette and several rolls of storm fencing. A young man in a seersucker suit and flicking a skimmer hat in his hand seemed to be a sort of emcee. “Burn the hat! Burn the hat!” the crowd yelled gleefully, though he didn’t do it. However, one woman, swept up in the euphoria of the event, or perhaps just an exhibitionist, took off her panties and threw them into the inferno. One woman, a graduate of City as School on Clarkson St., said it reminded her of a Rainbow Gathering, popular hippie-like youth events in the woods. Injuries included one man who landed in the blaze after a midair collision with another fire-leaper and a woman whose ankle was slashed after young men started throwing bottles at the fire around 2:40 a.m. Police didn’t try to shut the event down, apparently feeling it was too hot to handle, and perhaps pressed with covering the wider area. In photo at bottom left, the last fire worshiper begged police to arrest him, but they just walked away. At bottom right, what was left of the fire and the garbage cans that had been tossed in it the next morning.

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