We can't believe we missed this: over two weeks ago, on December 2nd, Sweden's Gävle Goat burned down. Each holiday season, the town of Gävle erects a straw Goat, and each year would-be arsonists attempt to burn it down. This year's Goat was the 45th of its kind erected in the town of Gävle since 1966, and the 28th to be set alight.
Mats Öhlén, a journalist based in Gävle, reports that the arson took place shortly after 3 am, and that the Goat only took about five minutes to burn down to the skeleton. Öhlén assures his readers that "the burning down of the Christmas goat is not a PR-trick", and "most people in Gävle want to see the goat 'alive' at least until Christmas". This year, they will not get their wish.
They also won't get a replacement, at least until next November. According to a statement on the Goat's blog, there are no plans to erect another Goat this year. Here's a video of the arson (the burning begins around the 1:43 mark):
The Gävle Goat is Back! - November 26, 2011
It's a sure sign that the holiday season is upon us: Gävlebocken (the Gävle Goat), the biggest straw goat in the world (with a maximum height, in 2005, of 49 feet), has returned to Castle Square in Gävle, Sweden. Last year, the giant creature kept followers up to date on his struggle to survive arson attacks via Twitter and a live webcam. As of Thursday, the updates have begun again.
The Gävle Goat was first erected in Castle Square back in 1966 by the local fire department. Since then, it's become a local tradition to try and destroy the structure, usually with fire. The goat has been burned down a total of 24 times, with the last successful arson occurring in 2009. Last year was luckier, thanks to the efforts of a 24-hour security team: the Gävle Goat made it all the way through 2010 without burning.
If 2010 is any indication, the would-be vandals are getting more creative and extreme in their methods. Last December, two men actually offered a guard 50,000 Kronors (CAD$7461) to leave his post so they could carry the goat away from the square - with a helicopter. The plot was foiled, but it will be interesting to see what could happen during the 2011 season.
Gävle Goat (Before)
Gävle Goat (After, 2005)
Here are some random acts of vandalism against the goat from past years:
Two drunken teens are arrested after burning down the goat a mere six hours after it was erected.
The goat is run over by a car.
The volunteers guarding the goat decide to go for coffee during a severe blizzard, reasoning that no one could possibly light a fire in those kinds of conditions. They are wrong. The goat burns.
An international incident: American Lawrence Jones, a 51-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio, burned the goat down, thinking it was a legal local tradition. He was fined 100,000 Kronors (CAD$14,922), and had his lighter confiscated. He still hasn't paid the fine.
Santa Claus and the Gingerbread Man (or at least people in dressed up as those two personages) fired a flaming arrow at the goat, lighting it aflame. They escaped and remain at large.