On the 12th day of Christmas, there won’t be a bonfire in Eagle | VailDaily.com

On the 12th day of Christmas, there won’t be a bonfire in Eagle

COVID-19 concerns result in cancellation of 2021 event

Eagle’s 12th Night of Christmas community bonfire and ice skating party is the latest COVID-19 related cancellation for the valley.

For the first time in nearly seven decades, Eagle won’t bid the holiday season farewell on Jan. 6 with its annual Christmas tree bonfire, the traditional 12th day of Christmas.

Eagle began celebrating 12th Night back in 1953. The glow from the huge Christmas tree bonfire can usually be seen throughout town and the event has become a beloved, low-key community celebration.

“It’s just a tough year to do this with all of our concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eagle events manager Brian Hall.

Missing the get-together is just one part of the 12th Night tradition, however. For decades residents have known that they can dispose of their live Christmas trees at the bonfire pile. That part of the tradition remains.

“Because people are used to doing it for 12th Night, we want to make it easy for everybody,” said Hall. “We would like it if people would take their trees to the southwest corner of Eagle Town Park.”

From there, the Eagle Public Works staff will move the discarded trees to the recycling operation at the Eagle County Landfill.

Hall asked that residents keep trees out of the street when they leave them at the 12th Night pile.

And, he added, when the global pandemic has subsided, 12th Night will return.

The glow from the 12th night bonfire lights up Eagle. The community has celebrated 12th Night since 1953.
Photo courtesy Ron Wheeler

Eagle tradition

Dr. L.W. Simmons is credited with coming up with the 12th Night celebration

Back in its Jan. 8, 1953 edition, the Eagle Valley Enterprise reported: “The ancient custom of burning the Yule trees on the 12th night following Christmas was observed in Eagle Tuesday night when around 100 adults and children gathered at the skating pond in southwest town to witness the burning of a huge pile of Christmas trees and enjoy skating on the town’s pond.”

“Simmons stated that he hoped the custom would be carried on next year and that plans would be made far enough in advance that more persons could participate,” noted the Enterprise back in 1953.

The world has changed a great deal since that first get-together, but the 12th Night celebration itself has not. Through the years, Eagle Lions Club members have been in charge of supplying hot chocolate for the bonfire and the Greater Eagle Fire Department has been called in to do the actual tree burning.

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