SCRANTON — An autumn ceremony designed to celebrate the cultural history of Northeastern Pennsylvania reaches its sixth anniversary Saturday, and it features a few new elements.
The annual Bonfire at the Iron Furnace takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Scranton Iron Furnaces. The festival has expanded this year to include the participation of Scranton businesses throughout Bonfire Week, the week leading up to the ceremonial blaze, and the Bonfire Festival has a German theme to add to a multitude of activities and sources of entertainment.
The festival, according to its website, was started to “explore the roots of Halloween in Celtic culture as well as celebrate other cultural autumn festivals” with a nod to the regions industrial past. The Anthracite Heritage Museum and the Iron Furnaces, which are overseen by the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission, are the beneficiaries of the yearly event.
For the first year, Scranton businesses and restaurants, like Bar Pazzo and Terra Preta, have opened their doors with promotions for the Bonfire in the week leading up to the lighting ceremony and fall festival, PHMC commissioner Bob Savakinus said.
“It’s a little bit of a German theme as well,” Savakinus said. “It’s another way to celebrate a different ethnicity in our area. We have an oompah band and a German teacher involved.”
Along with the oompah act, Shutzengiggles, the event features live music by Light Weight and Colleen & Jimmy Reynolds. Fall themed entertainment includes fire twirlers and hoopers, a jack-o’-lantern competition, a Day of the Dead ofrenda and a harvest display along with stilt walkers, live theater, face painting, a fairy tale display by the Everhart Museum and balloon animals.
Savakinus said the annual lighting of the bonfire is a great way to celebrate what the furnaces, which was a major producer of pig iron and employer of local workers in the mid and late 1800s, meant to the region.
“I think it’s symbolic,” Savakinus said. “It’s a great way to bring the community together on a nice fall evening, and it’s a way to show the PHMC that we have people coming to see these historical sites and show them it could be a tourism draw to the area.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected]
IF YOU GO
What: Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces
Where: Scranton Iron Furnaces, 159 Cedar Ave., Scranton
When: 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 15
Additional information: Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 at the venue gate and include festival admission and $5 in ‘bonfire bucks’ for food, beverages and activities. Advance tickets are available at scrantonbonfire.com.