Christmas goat goes up in smoke

  | James Innes

Each year the town of Gavle in Sweden erects a giant Christmas goat made of straw and wood in Slottsborget square in the centre of the city. And each year arsonists try and burn it down. This year was no exception.

Last Sunday afternoon, the 13 foot “Gävlebocken” was launched for this year’s festive season. However, the same evening it was engulfed in flames, the 35th time in 50 years that the goat has been destroyed. The same thing happened last year, but at least the goat lasted then until December 27th before succumbing to the flames.

The goat has achieved international fame, not least because of the frequency with which it has been destroyed. The build-up to this year’s unveiling was shown live on Swedish web TV channels, and the goat has even got its own Twitter account.

As 2016 was the 50th anniversary of the goat’s first appearance, the local council spent 2.3 million kroner (US $250,000) on the construction of the Christmas effigy, its marketing and launch party. Local politicians said they would try to have a “goat guarantee” that it would survive the first weekend of the festive season, while security measures to protect it were stepped-up, including the installation of high-tech surveillance cameras.

Despite this, a determined arsonist shipped through the net and attacked the defenceless goat while one guard went to the toilet, and another was distracted. Police are looking for the perpetrator but, so far, have made no arrests. Police Central Region spokesperson Matilda Isaksson told a local news agency “we don’t know how the fire started so…can’t comment on that. We are very interested if there are more people who made observations from the scene”.

The goat itself took to Twitter with a message to its fans. “Oh no, such a short amount of time with you my friends. But I shall rise from the ashes and see you next year again!”

Source: The Local

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