Monday, December 29, 2008

Bonfire Guidelines

The Mid-City Bonfire Committee asks that guests at the bonfire observe the following guidelines:

No Fireworks
In or around bonfire
The N.O.F.D. will extinguish the fire immediately if fireworks are tossed into the fire. If you want to see this tradition continued, do not throw fireworks.

Do Not Throw Items in Fire
Designated marshals & fire personnel only can place items in fire

No glass containers

Respect the barricades, volunteer marshals & the NOPD & NOFD

Be Nice or Leave
This is a family-style neighborhood event. Please behave accordingly.

Do Not Litter
Please take your trash with you when leaving

The Bonfire Committe would like to thank to sponsors including Friends of St. Patrick Park, New Orleans Roofing and Metal and Wesco Gas and the N.O.F.D, N.O.P.D and Park and Parkways Commission for helping to save our traditions.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NOFD signs off on Mid-City bonfire

The New Orleans Fire Department told NOLA.Com it had agreed to a bonfire in Mid-City on New Years Eve with restrictions, but Mid-City neighborhood sources indicated that the agreement still required a response from the New Orleans Police Department.

In an email to participants in a meeting held Tuesday morning in Mid-City to prepare a proposal to present to city officials, an agreement was reached with the NOFD contingent on the NOPD providing barricades and closing the north side of Orleans Avenue to traffic for fire personnel assigned to the event. There was no reported response from the NOPD as of this evening.

Fire Department District Chief Norman Woodridge described to NOLA.Com the outcome of a meeting between a delegation from Mid-City with the NOFD facilitated by City Councilmember Arnie Fielkow and Shelly Midura. Fielkow attended an early morning meeting at a Mid-City coffee house at which a group of pro-bonfire Mid-Citizens outlined a proposal to offer to the NOFD to try to allay fire official's concerns.

The morning meeting followed a contentious town-hall meeting called by city officials including the NOFD, NOPD and Park and Parkways Comission at which over 150 Mid-Citizens greeted city official's objections to the bonfire with derision. Fire officials had circulated a flyer in the neighborhood announcing the meeting as an "Illegal Bonfires Informational Session."

The Mid-Citizens group outlined a plan this morning that offered to relocate the bonfire to another Mid-City location, reduce the size and configuration of the bonfire, and to provide crowd marshals and a clean up crew. They offered to post signs to discourage some activities that led to the official move against the bonfire, including excessive use of fireworks, fireworks and other material thrown into the fire while it was burning, and occasional nudity as people people performed a ritual run around the bonfire residents say is for good luck in the New Year.

Those involved in the morning meeting were already moving to recruit volunteer marshals and clean-up crew through the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization mailing list. An effort will be made to provide collection of excess trees brought by the neighborhood beyond what the NOFD will allow to divert them to state and local programs that use discarded trees for coastal restoration projects.

Friends of the Bonfire

A group of Mid-Citizens assembled at the Bean Gallery on N. Carrollton Avenue this morning and prepared a plan to try to win city approval to proceed with a bonfire of some size, at a location in Mid-City. A smaller group will meet with Councilmember Shelly Midura and representatives of city agencies later today, as promised by Midura at the Monday evening meeting.

Among the concessions to the city that were discussed and generally approved were to suggest relocation to a new spot in Mid-City if that appeases the NOFD and other city officials; proactively organizing volunteer marshals to help patrol the crowd, limiting access to the fire and trying to calm the crowd's behavior along with a volunteer clean-up committee.

The group will prepare and post signs to remind people that if they want to see the traditional continue, they should not throw foreign material (especially fireworks) into the bonfire, and otherwise behave reasonably.

I don't speak on behalf of anyone other than myself, but if you wish to see the bonfire continue:
  • Do not throw fireworks or other foreign matter into the fire.
  • Respect the directions of fire fighters and police, and identified bonfire marshals.
  • Keep your clothes on (this is a family event; we bring our kids)
  • Do not get dangerously close to the fire, and respect any barricades that may be erected.
Please help spread this message through the city by word of mouth and any social media you participate in (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Watch this space for more information as it develops.

Monday, December 22, 2008

NOFD "Informational" Meeting

Over 150 people gathered at the Informational Meeting called by the New Orleans Fire Department, New Orleans Police Department and city officials. The crowd expressed its overwhelming support for the event. The video's below present the fire department's initial statements, and Shelly Midura's endorsement of the NOFD's initial position

None of the initial remarks pointed to a positive outcome, as there is no organization ready to apply for a permit and take on the liability costs on the 10 days notice the city has given us.

City Council Vice-President Arnie Fielkow made some very conciliatory remarks that led the a proposal that a small group of Mid-City residents meet in Midura's office with representatives of the NOFD, NOPD and Parks and Parkways department to discuss alternatives.

As the video's show, the NOFD's official position is that those alternative will not include a bonfire on Orleans Avenue, a position that is unacceptable to the community, it is not clear what tomorrow's discussion will produce.

(Bad) Video of NOFD Opening Remarks Part 1 and Part 2.

One eloquent resident defends the tradition.

Shelly Midura's opening remarks, and Arnie Fielkow's remarks late in the meeting.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Signs of Resistance

Some one has made a painted sign and placed it on the site of the Mid-City bonfire in the 4200 block of Orleans

A small sign I put up last week (just a marker and an illegal marketing sign) has been amended by someone calling for the citizens of Mid-City to assemble on the neutral ground fo the 4200 block of Orleans after the Saints' game Sunday. It doesn't say what to do when we get there, but I think a public show of solidarity and support for the bonfire would be good in advance of Monday's nights meeting with the N.O.F.D and other city officials. It would be an opportunity to discuss strategies for saving the bonfire and how to approach the city officials.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Please Sign The Petition

It would be wonderful if everyone who has clicked Yes or Yes but not fireworks would take a moment to sign this online petition. If you're from Mid-City please put your address in the comments

Please also join the Facebook group if you use that program online to keep in contact with fellow bonfire advocates:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Please tell the NOFD to back off

Please call the New Orleans Fire Department and ask them to reconsider the city's effort to stamp out New Orleans traditions. The N.O.F.D. has been on-site for years with an engine to monitor (and later extinquish) the bonfire. There is no reason to change the existing practice.

NOFD Office of Public Affairs
317 Decatur Street
(504) 658-4714
Monday - Friday 8am. - 5pm.

Gambit blog article

Here is a link to the Gambit's notice of the city's attempts to ban the Mid-City Bonfire.

Blog Of New Orleans story

Save The Mid-City Bonfire

The City of New Orleans' Park and Parkways Department, Police Department and Fire Department are trying to block the century-old tradition of a New Year's Eve bonfire of Christmas trees on the Orleans Avenue neutral ground.

Long-time residents report that the bonfire, traditionally held in the 4200 block of Orleans Avenue, has been a continuous celebration for going on 90 years.

Please call your local elected officials and tell them to stop trying to kill New Orleans traditions. They've tried it with Second Lines and the Mardi Gras Indians. Now it's our turn. Remember how hard it was to get the city to return to traditional Mardi Gras routes including Endymion?

What will they try to kill next?

Please call or email your councilmember and at-large members jackie Clarkson and Arnie Fielkow and tell them to leave our traditions alone

Shelly Midura:
Phone: (504) 658-1010
Fax: (504) 658-1016

Arnie Fielkow:
Phone: (504) 658-1060
Fax: (504) 658-1068

Cynthia Hedge Morrell:
Phone: (504) 658-1040
Fax: (504) 658-1048

Cynthia Willard Lewis:
Phone: (504) 658-1050
Fax: (504) 658-1058

James Carter:
Phone: (504) 658-1030
Fax: (504) 658-1037

Stacy Head:Phone: (504) 658 -1020
Fax: (504) 658-1025

Jackie Clarkson:
Phone: (504) 658-1070
Fax: (504) 658-1077