Arrive early at Ninigret Park, by 4:30 pm is recommended, to attend this year's bonfire tradition, dating back to 2005. It will be lit between 5 and 5:15 pm and will probably last about 45 minutes, so it will make a good start to your New Year's celebrations.
The Westerly Sun has a great article about Frank "Frankie Pallets" Glista and the upcoming bonfire here. Here is an excerpt:
Frankie Pallets, as he’s affectionately known because of the many, many pallets that go into making the decorative structure, has been involved from the start. The first bonfire attracted about 100 people, he said. The latest, a year ago, had 3,500 according to estimates.
Saturday’s show at 4:30 at the park will be his last, he said.
“I want to take a little more time with this, try to make it more interesting,” he said.
Frank has built another beautiful structure this year, with pallets donated by Arnold Lumber, for this year's bonfire. The town is preparing to provide donuts and hot chocolate for you while things get organized.
Frank explained some personal history for the article in the Sun.
The site of the bonfire, on what used to be a runway for the U.S. Navy’s pilot training facility in Charlestown during and after World War II, has special meaning for Glista.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but my parents met here,” he said.
His father was a naval aviator who transferred to Charlestown from Jacksonville. His mother lived in town and was a plane spotter during the war.
“When they built this facility, she and her girlfriend got jobs here and they both met their pilot husbands,” he said.