When it comes to Christmas trees and fire, timing is everything.
For 99 percent of a Christmas tree's life, fire is a tragedy most likely resulting in melted toys or worse. But for the trees lucky enough to be rounded up by Friends of the Rootless Forest, being set alight is cause of celebration.
Just as they've done every year for over two decades, the Burning Man-affiliated group marched down to San Francisco's Ocean Beach this past Sunday for a lively party ending with a massive bonfire known to draw upwards of 200 people.
The "Post-Yule Pyre" is long-standing San Francisco tradition and has seen organizers trolling city sidewalks looking for discarded Christmas trees and Hunukah bushes as well as teaming with Sloat Garden Center for help in tree collection.
Even though it's all in good fun and, by all accounts, the group does a surprisingly thorough job of cleaning up after themselves, the burn seems to be pushing up on the edge of what's allowed on the beach.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area spokesman George Durgerian said that fires burning green wood send smoke and fumes into the residential areas east of the Great Highway, particularly in the Parkside and Sunset districts where many homes are close to the beach.
"We've asked people as of 2009 to stop burning Christmas trees because they're just so dirty," Durgerian said. "We're trying to minimize the disturbance to the neighborhoods and the environment."
However, GGNRA officials seem to be letting the events continue on as planned, with some added supervision.
The San Francisco Examiner reports:
Since the bonfire is often held somewhere on Ocean Beach, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and federal park police are the agencies that would respond to any potential issues, but GGNRA spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet said as long as the bonfire is within limits, there shouldn't be a problem.
"People are allowed to have fires on the beach as long as it is not a Spare the Air day," Picavet said. "But fires have to be within certain sizes, and that's the part that gets pushed by Christmas trees."
If your tree is still up and you're looking to get rid of it, we'd reccomend against staging your own private post yule pyre. Instead, through the end of this week, you can leave your shrub on the curb next to your trash bins on regularly scheduled trash collection day and Recology will be happy to dispose of it for you. But they do ask that all decorations be removed and trees taller than six feet be cut in half.
No need to dispose of your Festivus pole, though: That should stay fresh until next holiday season.