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Britsburgh’s Guy Fawkes Night is one hot ticket

November 24, 2018

Robert Charlesworth remembers the fun of celebrating Guy Fawkes Night as a young lad growing up in Leeds in Yorkshire, England.

The annual event, traditionally held on the night of Nov. 5 in the UK, marks the failed Gunpowder Plot in 1605 when 13 men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

As part of the observance, the effigy of Guy Fawkes - one of the 13 who was considered Britain’s most notorious traitor because he was caught moments before he lit the fuse - is burned on a bonfire, usually accompanied by fireworks.

“As a kid, I remember going around to the local farms, collecting wood for the bonfire,” says Charlesworth, chairman of the Britsburgh Society, a Pittsburgh organization of people with a common love of all things British.

“There was bonfire in every town with fireworks. It was the equivalent of the 4th of July, it was that big,” he recalls. “Children would make the ‘Guy’ and wheel it around the village, asking people for pocket money for sweets, requesting ‘a penny for the Guy.’”

Charlesworth and his wife, Katie, moved to Pittsburgh in 2010, where he became involved in Britsburgh and organized the first Guy Fawkes Night last year at Hartwood Acres, which was attended by 150 people.

He’s hoping that this year’s Bonfire Night planned for Nov. 3, the closest Saturday to Nov. 5, will be even bigger.

Activities will get underway at 6 p.m., when children are invited to Hartwood Stables to make a “Guy” for the bonfire from old clothes, string, sack cloth and straw.

At 6:30 p.m. the Guy Fawkes facsimile will be paraded from the stables to the bonfire, where it will be placed on top of the bonfire, which will then be lit.

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., special family activities include apple bobbing, games, a “keg of gunpowder” piñata, craft table and doughnut tree. A food truck also will be available.

“Our 5-year-old daughter, Annabelle, had a blast last year,” Charlesworth says.

He outlined some bonfire safety tips for families attending the festivities to follow:

• Do wrap up warm with thick socks, jumpers (sweaters), gloves, hats, coats and scarves. It’s pretty cold in November and standing around in the dark can be chilly.

• Do bring a flashlight (torch).

• Do stand far away from the bonfire.

• Do keep a close watch on your children.

• Do have fun.

• Don’t bring alcohol.

• Don’t bring fireworks or sparklers. Due to safety reasons, there will not be any firework display at this event.

• Don’t bring your pets to the event as they might get scared.