Carrying on a family tradition

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2024

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Imagine traveling along a rural Pike County road at night and seeing the sky lighted by streaking balls of flaming fire

The sight could be a little frightening for those who might not know that it was only the Henderson family carrying on a family tradition.

For 34 years and counting, the Hendersons of the Enon Community have been hosting a fireballing sometime around Christmas and New Year’s depending on the weather.

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Barbara Henderson Currie might be considered the matriarch of the annual event. After all, she has traditionally been the one who winds, stitches and soaks the 40-plus balls for fireballing each year.

“I can remember Mother telling how her family would sit around the fireplace on long winter nights and unravel old socks and wind the strings into fireballs,” Currie said, not knowing, back then, that she would, one day, be the matriarch of the family and winding fireballs in the warmth of her home.

“Making fireballs takes a lot time but fireballing brings families and friends together so it’s worth the time,” Currie said. “To make fireballs, you have to unravel old socks, wind them and stitch them into tight balls, if you don’t they will fall apart when they are tossed around. Then, the finished balls have to be soaked in kerosene for several months because it burns slowly and can be tossed around for a long time.”

Everyone who comes to the fire balling wants to be a part of the annual event.  Some people bring gloves for pitch and catch and place them on the tailgate of Harold Currie’s truck for the taking. Burgers and sweets are shared around the big, roaring campfire and everyone is in a friendly and festive mood.

“Fireballing is something that we look forward to each year,” Currie said.  “We all pitch in and do what has to be done so that fireballing will continue to be a tradition in the Enon community for many years to come.”

Several of the young girls are learning to stitch the fireballs and the boys are helping with getting the fields ready for fireballing.

Currie said traditions should be preserved because they are the heart of families and communities and bind them together.