To most Americans Guy Fawkes is the hero of the graphic comic and film “V for Vendetta,” represented by a smiling mask with upturned moustaches. But in England he is the arch traitor. In 1605 he was caught under the houses of parliament with barrels of gunpowder and a fuse attempting to blow up king and parliament. Every November fifth since then cries of “Remember, Remember the Fifth of November” ring out across England as people light bonfires and burn an effigy of “The Guy.”
In Sitka the Fortress of the bear, a sanctuary for orphaned bears that is located in the old clarifier tank at the former pulp mill, changed that custom a bit, inviting kids to bring their pumpkins. The pumpkin heads were filled with kibble and fed to the bears while one pumpkin head, representing Guy Fawkes was burned on top of a bonfire. I asked Chris Turner, a volunteer at the Fortress of the bear from Exeter, England. “Is it Traditional to feed an effigy of Guy Fawkes head to the bears?”
Actually not, no it’s not something we do in England, we don’t have a huge amount of bears to partake in the tradition, but you know it’s fun, we’re putting a bit of an Alaska spin on it.
The kids made s’mores around a smaller fire and then lay out their sacrificial Guy pumpkin heads in the bear pen before the bears were ushered into the pens. They did a lot of sniffing and some batting pumpkins before eating the Guy heads. Perhaps pumpkin is not a natural bear food. After allowing the bears to smash pumpkins Les Kinnear, the director of the Fortress, lit the bonfire with the pumpkin headed Guy for several dozen onlookers while Chris Turner read the Guy Fawkes poem.
Remember, remember the 5th of November!
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
As the guy burned he looked positively demonic. However the smell was delightful. One onlooker said.
I smell pumpkin roasting, it’s the best smell; it’s a very good smell.
Enjoy the pictures from Sitka’s Bonfire Night.