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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kids' Charity Tosses Guy Into Bonfire

For MTShona McGrahan, who baked gingerbread men for the charity event, throwing an effigy of Guy Fawkes into the fire.
Fireworks lit up the sky, guests drank mulled wine and munched on hot dogs, and a straw man burned on a bonfire.

The Action for Russia's Children charity brought one of the most quirky of British celebrations, Bonfire Night, to town on Saturday to raise funds for its projects.

The night commemorates a plot by 13 conspirators to blow up Parliament, and King James I with it, on Nov. 5, 1605. It takes its other name, Guy Fawkes Night, from one of the plotters, whose effigy -- the "guy" -- is placed atop bonfires to remember the plot's defeat.

Saturday was the 400th anniversary of the failed attack.

A large bonfire was built on a lakeside beach at Rosinka, a gated community west of Moscow, and a small crowd stood in a tight circle around it for warmth, as glowing embers floated in the air above them. Children in gloves and woolly hats played with slabs of ice from the partially frozen lake, and pop music blared from a stereo placed near two crowded food stalls.

People stood in lines leading up to the stalls, nibbling on gingerbread men handed by ARC assistants as they waited for hot dogs, soft drinks and mulled wine donated for the event. The cookies were baked by Shona McGrahan, a member of ARC's management committee.

"It's very pleasant. It's colder than the event last year, but that makes it nicer," said Simon Webster, a Rosinka resident from Britain, as he waited for a hot dog. ARC held a Bonfire Night last year as well.

The guy was unceremoniously dropped onto the bonfire at 5:30 p.m. An hour later, a throng of people clustered along wooden railings surrounding the lake to watch fireworks explode overhead. Appreciative "oohs" and "aahs" filled the chilly night air.

Susie Latta, a member of ARC's management committee, said the bonfire raised about $5,000 for ARC, a British-registered organization that supports 11 projects in Moscow, including a therapy center that helps children with severe learning disabilities and a fund that assists impoverished single-parent families.

While Saturday's attendees knew that the bonfire was for charity, some in the international crowd were unaware of the historical event it commemorated.

Thomas Gaskin, 11, originally from Britain, was able to reel off the names of all 13 conspirators: Thomas Bates, Robert Catesby, Sir Everard Digby, Guy Fawkes, John Grant, Robert Keyes, Thomas Percy, Ambrose Rookwood, Francis Tresham, Robert Wintour, Thomas Wintour, Jack Wright and Kit Wright.

But Katja Klebingat, also 11, from Germany, was less certain about the night's significance.

"I don't know what it is. I'm just here because everyone else is. But it's really fun," she said.

Tim Waits, a British oil worker, took a more irreverent view. "I don't know whether we're celebrating the fact that the plotters were found out or that someone tried to kill the king in the first place," Waits said, grinning.

Susie Latta can be contacted by telephone at 956-7463 or e-mail at snlatta@rol.ru. More information about Action for Russia's Children can be found at www.actionarc.com