Community not happy as Jenkintown cancels longtime bonfire tradition; introduces new tradition

A longtime tradition in Jenkintown is no more and community members are not happy.

First Covid stopped it. Now, the annual homecoming bonfire is over for good. But, why? Students say the large bonfire anchors the annual homecoming tradition.

"I was going to go this year. I was really looking forward to it, but when I found out that they canceled it, I was mad," student John Wearing said.

In a letter to families, the Jenkintown superintendent describes the bonfire as a "hardship" saying it was "costly" to secure clean wood and noted significant "safety concerns" each year, which often resulted in injuries.


"It’s just about not breaking down the traditions. Traditions are what makes us a nice, close-knit community," Nora McCloskey, President of the Home and School Association, commented.

McCloskey says there was no opportunity for volunteers to step forward and save the homecoming tradition that was usually held on the high school football or baseball field. "It’s gone. Yeah, with little to no discussion. That’s the part that bothers me the most."

Instead, the district is planning a new tradition.

Jonathan Williams and his brother are on the football team. He says, in two weeks, families are invited to the football stadium for a celebration. Senior athletes will be escorted on the field by elementary students to share highlights for their season.

"I don’t know, it’s not the same as the bonfire. It’s different, it’ll be new, exciting, but it won’t be the same," Jonathan Williams said.

Students and families say the new tradition focuses on athletics and say they’ll miss the community-wide bonfire that brought everyone together.

"There’s nothing like fire. You can smell the smoke and burning wood. There’s a bunch of people dancing and stuff and singing. You got food all over the place, as well," student Sean Vance explained.

"Ever since I was in first grade, it’s been a whole thing that we’ve always gone to the bonfire. I had fun," student Ava Bartlett added.

From the School District of Jenkintown letter:

We would like to begin a new tradition at Jenkintown that we hope will become a treasured event. For the past two years, we have not held the annual homecoming bonfire, primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there were other reasons that made the bonfire a hardship for us as well.

Therefore, on Thursday, October 27th , at 7 p.m., we are inviting all families to our football stadium for a celebration. 

Athletes will be divided into teams for a special athletes skills’ competition highlighting senior players. We hope that you will join us for this celebration. We encourage all students, K-12, to come out and route for their favorite athletes. Light refreshments, and Jenkintown swag, will be available for purchase. So, wear your red and blue, and come out for a fun-filled evening to celebrate Jenkintown athletics!


Jill A. Takacs Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools