Ash in the sand is a mess

Every January for the past 20 years, Ocean Beach has hosted a down-low, post-holiday bonfire.

The unauthorized tradition consists of burning Christmas trees. Lots of them.

A group known as “Friends of the Rootless Forest” plays a central role in promoting and advertising the annual pyre. The Ex wrote the group has tended to be a well-meaning, good-spirited bunch. They’re known to pick up discarded Christmas trees throughout The City to burn.

The bonfire has taken place without notable incident for years. Past participants have cleaned the beach after each event, and even planted new trees to compensate for the gasses released.

As with other types of traditional outdoor events though, they tend to grow, attracting more people every year. This year, with Twitter fanning the virtual flames, word spread and the crowds descended. Such was the spectacle that authorities arrived on the sand arresting one, and writing up citations for others.

The Ex said more than 100 trees were burned, another 400 were scattered in the dunes and Ocean Beach was left covered in debris. It took volunteers and Golden Gate National Recreation Area crew members a costly three days to clean it up.

This is not good form, and if the post-holiday bonfire is to continue as a tradition, perhaps the Rootless Forest should have a word or 11 about bonfire etiquette with their new Twitter friends.