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Frank Glista volunteers his time each December to create the annual New Year's Eve bonfire celebration at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. (Heather Wiech / Special to The Sun)

Bonfire will ignite after the last sun sets on 2013 at Ninigret Park


CHARLESTOWN — Frank Glista is making sure 2013 will go up in flames at this New Year’s annual bonfire in Ninigret Park. The free community event has become a Charlestown tradition and a great way for children to participate on New Year’s Eve.

Glista volunteers to create the event so that local kids can experience a New Year’s celebration.

“The idea basically was not only to give something back to the community, but also to create something for the kids,” he said. “I’ve always felt that kids don’t know what New Year’s is all about. They see their parents go out and the hoopla, but they don’t know, so I thought this would be a great thing to do for them. By lighting it off early, parents can still go home, give the kids over to the baby sitter, and still go out and have a good time.”

One of Glista’s fondest memories is of an early bonfire that was well underway when it began to snow. The youngsters got the idea of trying to put out the fire with snowballs made of the newly fallen snow. It was an unrealistic endeavor, given the intensity of the blaze, but Glista thought the whole thing was adorable.

Almost every day for two weeks, Glista spent most of his day arranging lumber on the mammoth wooden pallet structure to be set ablaze. “This is my fourth year doing it for the town of Charlestown,” he said. The bonfire was originally carried out under under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce in Charlestown in 2005, but there was a lapse and Glista eventually approached the town to restart the event and was granted permission.

Arnold Lumber donates the wood for the event, a giant pile of pallets still in sellable condition. Glista emphasizes what great condition the pallets are in to express the magnitude of the donation. “I can’t say enough about them. They are just phenomenal,” he said.

It’s a lot of work to move the pallets around, but Glista believes he can continue to put the event together for years to come. “The parks and rec director asked me how many more years I had left in me. I said I’d like to keep going for another eight if I can. I’ll be 70 then,” he said.

The New Year’s bonfire is free and open to the public. Free refreshments will be provided by Dunkin’ Donuts and served by local Boy Scouts. It is requested that attendees bring a nonperishable canned food item or pasta to be donated to RICAN.

For more information, visit the Charlestown town website, charlestownri.org. The bonfire will run from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Ninigret Park.



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