The Johns Eve bonfire at Braslavas Park, Alojas novads on 22.06.2010. An estimated 400-500 people attended the event.
Johns Eve is being celebrated at the Braskava Park for the 13th year this year. Yours truly restarted the tradition that many years ago. Our bonfire teams (2) construct the bonfire on alternate years and compete in creative design.
Many people from Braslavas pagasts, now part of Alojas novads, participate in making our Johns Eve festival a success. We are known for being off the beaten path, therefore, very much a community affair. In this picture three women from Vilzeni are making a wreath to decorate a nearby small stage.
Some years ago, our bonfire team built the bonfire from large roots which we gathered from trees fallen during a then recent storm. We faced the roots outward, and the design turned out to be like a spider's net, a web of connections or, better, communal bonds.
This year our bonfire resembled a small house, one perhaps which Hansel (Yansel) un Gretel lived in. Some years ago our team began to use colorful paints to enhance the appearance of our outdoor art works.
The forebears of Latvians, being a people of the forest, had plenty of wood to make their fires from. However, in our day, with much public land now in private hands, it is not so easy to access wood for burning. Thus, Alojas novads provided us with old railroad ties. Our builders were worried over the smoke this would cause. Fortunately, there was no wind, and the heavy smoke rose straight into the air and soon left but a huge torch to light the evening.
Perhaps this fire presents our community's will to live and prosper.
Of the 77 years that this author has sojourned on planet Earth, 26 years have been spent in Latvia. The first 11 years were in Latvia, followed 5 years as a refugee in Germany, then 46 years in the United States of America, and then again the last 15 years in Latvia. I am proud and humbled to be honored with the medal of "Lachplehsis" (Lāčplēsis) by the Latvian defense fund Lachplesis. May Latvia, blessed with the strength of Lachplehsis and the spirit of the Johns, live on and create a most worthy and prosperous community. May we live to present the world with the best of possible examples of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.