Once Christmas is over, have any idea what will happen to your lightly-used conifer? One group certainly does.
Friends of the Rootless Forest celebrates the end of the season with a bonfire — a largely unplanned one. The group reportedly picks up lonely Christmas trees throughout The City and burns them somewhere on Ocean Beach, often during the first week of January.
Details of the annual event, which has taken place since 1990, could not be confirmed, but blogs and Twitter feeds discussing the Post Yule Pyre have a number of photos and descriptions of past burns that happened sometime in the first week of January.
Organizers and attendees did not return repeated requests for comment.
Neighbors, though, are all too aware of the event.
Marc Duffet, a member of the Sunset Parkside Education and Action Committee, said the bonfire has been around for years, but he does not recall it ever being a problem.
“It’s a longtime tradition and it’s not a huge problem, so there’s no need to make more of it than it is,” Duffet said. “No one has ever complained about it.”
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.”
Picavet said the greenery in a Christmas tree makes a fire smokier.
According to the National Park Service website, fires are only permitted in designated pit areas, located across from the Park Chalet. Fires are permitted if wood is untreated and unpainted and there is no glass or fire outside the designated rings. Groups of more than 25 people must obtain a permit.
According to blog posts, the location of the big burn is announced only a few days prior to the event. Those hoping to participate are instructed to meet at a location near the beach and the group will march — trees in hand — to a spot on the sand.
As many as 200 people have attended the festivities in the past. Though the group comes in and creates flames and an often-boisterous celebration, according to one blogger and event attendee, the group does clean up after themselves.
“What’s even more impressive is these guys actually clean the ashes off the beach, after the event is over, and plant a number of trees to compensate for the gases released during the Post Yule Pyre,” Spooky posted on the OddityCentral website in 2010.
How to dispose of your tree:
- If in excess of 6 feet tall, cut in half
- Remove decorations, stands and lights
- Place it next to recycling, composting or trash bins
How not to dispose of your tree:
By burning it on the beach. Christmas trees are considered debris. They are not permitted for burning in bonfires along Ocean Beach. Firewood is the only permitted wood to use in a bonfire.