Bartow carries on 80-year tradition of burning Christmas trees

It's a Bartow tradition that has burned on for nearly 80 years at Mary Holland Park.

"There are those of us for whom it's a community tradition, and we're going to come out here and enjoy it," says S.L. Frisbie, the emcee of the event for more than 20 years. "It's a Christmas tree burning!"

For 79 years, it's been a way for Bartow to residents to ring in the new year, as well as a safe and fun way to dispose of their Christmas trees.

"It was started in 1936 by a gentleman named Nye Jordan," Frisbie explains. "He said it was bad luck to have a Christmas tree in your house after New Year's Day. In those days, there were none of these Christmas tree stands that held water. By Christmas Day, most of the needles were on the floor and the tree was extremely dry, so it did in fact represent a fire hazard."

This year, they expect to burn more than 150 trees. Usually, it takes 15 minutes for all the trees to burn up.

"It's exciting for those few minutes," says Eda Marchman, who has been in charge of the tree burning since 1974. "Tradition is important in Bartow, and it's tradition."