"Condi" effigy burned at Lewes Bonfire night

Sunday, November 5, 2006

The traditions of Bonfire Night peculiar to the Sussex area were once again observed in Lewes on November 4.

Consistent with the town traditions in the East Sussex county of England, effigies of various figures were carried through the town, and later burnt. The effigies this year included George Bush, Condoleezza Rice (as Wonder Woman) and Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

As per tradition and local fame, effigies were carried through the town and burned on huge fires. These include The Pope, Guy Fawkes and other unpopular figures. One of this year's unfortunate guest appearances was also rendered as a hugely grotesque likeness of the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The unflattering effigy clutched a tattered U.S. flag in one hand, and a miniature Tony Blair in the other. Crowds shouted "Burn it!".

Smaller scale effigies, and so called 'enemies of bonfire', were also represented. This year's enemies included British Transport Police, whose attitude and handling of Bonfire night is an issue of local contention. Transport police were quietly represented by a pig head wearing a police helmet.

The event was not without incident. Six arrests occurred in respect of criminal damage and public order offences, but the event was less rowdy than in previous years and eras in the history of the Bonfire.

Superintendent Cliff Parrot of the Sussex Police said, "The event passed safely and was a resounding success with fewer arrests than last year, People were well behaved and acted responsibly, which in turn allowed everyone else to enjoy the celebrations."

The steep streets of the small town, located one hour south of London, were filled during the chilly winter evening with crowds carrying burning torches, with police, and with alcohol consumption accompanied by loud deafening bangs. The air was thick with woodsmoke.

In addition to effigies, flaming crosses were carried in recognition of the town's 17 Protestant Martyrs. These preceded elaborate costumed parades where participants dressed as Vikings, Antique firemen, Mongol warriors, and Zulus (including for the first time at Lewes, a female chieftain). Arthurian Knights and pirates were also featured. The pirates towed a cannon which they fired and shocked the crowds.

The traditional striped jerseys worn by various Bonfire Society members were also in evidence.