Family brings in ‘09 with fire

Published 12:02 am Sunday, January 4, 2009

When the Hendersons of the Josie community “throw” a New Year’s celebration party, they “throw” a party like none other.

On Friday night, people of all ages came from near and far to celebrate New Year’s the old-fashioned way with a fireball throw at Henderson “field.”

Barbara Henderson Currie has been making fireballs for the “throw” for more years than she cares to say.

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“Fireball throwing is a tradition with our family,” she said. “Fireballs were the only fireworks that our parents had and we grew up with the tradition. When Harold and I had children and my brothers had children we wanted to keep the tradition going.”

So, sometime around New Year’s Day, depending on family commitments and the weather, the Hendersons – Dennis, Durwood, Dwight and David and their sister, Barbara, invited everyone out to a huge field just beyond Enon Baptist Church to throw fireballs and enjoy the food and fellowship between tosses.

“We usually have a huge crowd and they come early and stay late but this year the crowd was down a little,” Currie said. “I think it was because we had to cancel last year because of the weather. That was the first time we’d had to do that. And, too, we were a little unsure about tonight because of the weather. But it’s a good crowd and growing.”

The steady stream of car lights along the rural road was assurance that the crowd would continue to grow as the night grew longer.

Currie said fireball throwing is a tradition that has almost flickered out but it is one she and her brothers and their families are committed to continuing.

“It’s a lot of fun and it gives people a chance to do something different – a unique way to celebrate New Year’s,” she said.

Almost as soon as the last fireball goes out, Currie is busy getting balls ready for the next year.

“I start each ball with a cotton sock and then wind cotton string around and around it,” she said.

At some point, she stops winding and starts stitching.

“If you don’t sew the balls together some, they’ll fall apart when they start burning,” she said.

Currie makes around 20 balls or more and then soaks them for several months in kerosene.

“You have to soak them for a long time or they’ll burn out,” she said.

The balls can be tossed with the bare hands of the brave-hearted or with gloved hands for the faint of heart.

“You just keep the balls moving,” said Kevin Phillips. “Toss it fast and it won’t burn your hand. Even the kids can do it. It’s a lot of fun for everybody.”

The fireballs light up the night sky as they woosh from hand to hand.

Dennis Henderson smiled with obvious pride in carrying on an old family tradition.

“It’s just what we do out here to celebrate the New Year and we invite anybody that wants to come to come.”