Last night my Christmas tree and those of many other Salem residents were engulfed in flames at the annual bonfire at Dead Horse Beach. This is a relatively recent, increasingly-popular tradition; I have friends from towns all around Salem who want to bring their Christmas trees over for our bonfire, to which I say, make your own! I had a dinner engagement last night during the bonfire, so I went over earlier in the day to take some pictures of the beach and the trees (and shells). These are from the morning; I assume the pile of trees got bigger during the day.
Dead Horse Beach is one of the beaches at Salem Willows. It is a relatively sheltered beach facing north, towards Beverly and its harbor. I had always heard the (apparent) urban legend that it became a graveyard for the many horses that died during the Great Salem Fire (of 1914), accounting for its name, but Salem native and local historian Jerome Curley explains that it was known as “Horse Beach” well before the fire.
As I wasn’t able to make it for the conflagration last night, here’s a picture of a previous bonfire from the Salem News (credit to photographer Mark Teiwes).
January 8th, 2012 at 8:42 am
We don’t buy real Christmas-Trees, of course they are nicer than a plastic one, but I think it s wrong to spend so much money for a tree that I throw away after 1 or 2 weeks..I mean it takes so long for them to grow & we only use them a few days…
January 8th, 2012 at 11:17 am
We have always had a live Christmas tree, but when you look at a pile of beautiful–but–dead trees it is only reasonable to think that artificial ones are a better option!
January 8th, 2012 at 6:16 pm
It is a sad sight.. all of them heaped up. We buy a tree that we will plant in the spring. As you know this year was a holly. But the town getting together and watching the bonfire is almost joyous in its ancientness and primitiveness, I am sure you would explain that better but you know what i mean. c
January 9th, 2012 at 8:27 am
Before living in our present home, we had a condo. The by-laws did not allow for real Christmas trees (of course fire hazards) so we purchased a fake but realistic looking one – not cheap even on sale. I recently read that a real Christmas tree is much more environmentally friendly than a fake one.
The energy used to make a fake one is tremendous, contributing to green house gases, it’s non biodegradable and made over seas requiring more fuel to ship. The farmed Christmas trees are locally grown especially for this holiday, are constantly replaced to maintain supply. The acres of trees help in cleaning the air while they are growing and after their life is over, they can be mulched. Not to mention that this enterprise employs local people as well. I have to emphasised that the article was in regards to farmed trees not wild ones. The ashes from your bon fire can be used as excellent fertiliser mixed in local gardens. You can get yourself a few shovel full and sprinkle it in your flower bed come spring and complete the cycle.
Very much enjoyed your previous posts.
January 9th, 2012 at 8:50 am
Thank you, Anyes! I feel better and am going to run over to the beach for some ashes this very morning.
January 8th, 2017 at 7:53 am
Hey Donna…this ritual may be a relatively recent one at Dead Horse Beach at “The Willows” but I grew up in South Salem (b. 1944) in vicinity of Dion’s Boat Yard and as far as I can remember the teenage boys in the neighborhood would collect trees left at the curb for trash pick up, take them to our beach (called “The Pipes”) and set them ablaze on New Year’s day….check it out with some of the locals of my era… 🙂
January 8th, 2017 at 8:24 am
That’s great to know, Kathleen! No one every mentions that! Love “The Pipes” too–I have heard that term before but not often. Thanks.