2011 arrived in a fairly quiet way. The evening had been wet at times but just an annoying drizzle. Everything was in place. The clocks had been put up the day before (Thursday) and set to the correct time, the barriers were set up as usual at 6pm. The marshals briefing had taken place and they were at their positions with fire extinguishers and radios where needed. The brochure distribution was well under way with teams of swingers helping to collect donations in exchange for this years edition. Some swingers were working the ‘clickers’ at these points, to monitor the numbers of spectators arriving for the police.
At 11.30pm the brochure distribution points pack up and the swingers take their fireballs down to the slipway for assembly, drenching and lighting. Despite a vital street light being out (after repeated phone calls to the lighting department) on the shorehead the assembly, drenching and lighting up process went ahead reasonably well.
On the stroke of Midnight the lead swinger, Alan Venters, lead off the ceremony walking behind the lone piper. 46 swingers followed Alan with their fireballs alight (some more than others!) to enthral the crowd of approx. 8000.
You may be aware that in 2008 we received a request from the popular BBC1's "Coast" to come along and do some potential filming for the programme. They attended and the filming began with Committee Secretary Susan Leiper wired up with the associated gubbins. She was paid £200 for her trouble which she promptly donated straight back to the Fireball coffers.
BBC1 have now been in touch to say that the programme will be aired on Wednesday 25th August 2010 at 8pm. So, if you cancel your yoga classes and put the golf on hold, you will see Susan get her two minutes of fame (literally!!). Remember though......the camera adds ten pounds!
It's very sad to report that George Emslie died on Wednesday 28th April 2010. George had been a Fireball Swinger for many years. His cheerie attitude to life and his pithy comments on the local scene will be sadly missed in the town.
George was never one to blow his own trumpet so we’ll never know how many times he swung a fireball or when he started. He politely but steadfastly refused to give any detail to his swinging history but we do know that he took part in the ceremonies in ’78, ’79, ’80, 91 & ’93. It’s enough to know that he supported the ceremony as much as he could.
It has been a double blow to the Fireballs Association to loose both brothers in less than three months.
Our information is that Jack first started swinging a fireball in 1948 and although he didn’t swing every year after that he did manage to swing at 44 Hogmanays until he stopped after the 2000/1 event. In 2004 he took on the role of ‘Official Starter’ & ‘Chief Paraffin Dispenser’ to help organise the starting and lighting up part of the ceremony, which he did until 2010.
Among Jack’s many interests The Fireballs were a strong subject that he promoted whenever he got the opportunity. Over the years he gave numerous interviews to reporters from TV, radio and newspapers about the history of the ceremony. He and his brothers, George and Bill helped keep the ceremony going when it looked as though it would die out through apathy. He used all his influence, when a councillor in the local area, to get the local authority to give the event as much support and help as it could to try and ensure that the ceremony would keep going.
If you want a good read about the Fire Festivals of Scotland then I can recomend 'Great Balls of Fire : A Year of Scottish Festivals' by Gary Sutherland (Birlinn). He covers most of the festivals & ceremonies and his style is great.
Something else to look out for is the December issue of Scottish Memories which also covers the fire festivals of Scotland.
The Fireball Ceremony for 2009 was an outstanding sucess. The weather was cold, though not freezing, and the wind was light. The crowd was large and enthusiastic. The combination pipe band (Stonehaven & Lathallan School) and the drumming group entertained the spectators from 11.00pm. Brochure and calendar sales/distribution went very well bringing in £2272.00 to help run the whole Hogmanay Festival.
Everything went according to the overall plans. There were no reported problems. The Fireworks went off at exactly the right moment - just after the last Fireball was thrown into the harbour at 00.25. The firework display was up to the standard we have come to expect - stunning!
The thousands of spectators in the harbour area who watched the firework display applauded loudly and long as the last firework died and seemed happy to stand around for quite a while after. However by 1am the whole High Street was swept clean and empty of people, barriers, bottles, plastic glasses, champagne corks, party poppers or cans. Credit must go to the Aberdeenshire Council workforce who come out every year and do so well.
Below are the names of the 47 swingers that made up the procession in 2009 with the number of times they have taken part before.
Pictures and videos of the 2008 Stonehaven Fireballs started to appear on the web very soon after the event was over. There are several videos on YouTube, with more being added all the time, and a really nice set of pictures courtesy of Gavin Shaw. If you have any pictures, videos, etc that you'd like to share, please do get in touch.
An ideal break in the weather allowed us to have an amazing Fireballs Ceremony for 2008. The rain stoped for the barrier setting out and then again it cleared from 9.30 untill after 1am. The total lack of wind also helped keep the evening feeling fairly mild. The huge turnout of spectators amazed all of us I think. I did not expect to see so many. The cars were parked up as far as the path into Forest Park off Mill 'o Forest Road. The Open Air In The Square organisers had noticed that their numbers were well up early on in the evening.
The lack of wind did have an adverse effect - the Fireballs took longer to burn out. There were more Swingers finishing in the 20-25 past midnight period this year. Last year most were done by 20 past. Quite a number of Swingers I spoke to were complaining of the effects of their exertions!
Thanks to Chairman Alan Venters and his team for another great event.
There were 46 swingers in total. The full list is attached. The press reports of 43 are my fault - poor accounting! On the accounting side, so far we know that the donations from the brochure distribution have raised £1638.00. This total may rise a little but even so it's great amount - nearly twice what we have raised in the past. Our costs have gone up this year though. Thanks to all who helped with the brochures - a fantastic effort.
We have had a good run on our DVDs, Tee & sweat shirts. Order yours NOW before stocks run out!