Ring of Fire

When most of you hear this phrase, you probably think of Johnny Cash’s famous song, “Burning Ring of Fire”

For me, I know it as an event where everyone around the lake lights flares at the same time to create a ring of glowing red around the lake. It can be seen from parks on the lake as well as private cottages, and from some roads and locations that are up above the lakes. It is a very cool thing to see from the shore and I have heard it is even more spectacular to see from the sky. Someday I hope to fly over one of the lakes during the ring of fire and fireworks to see what the view is like from above. If the view is so great from the ground I can’t imagine what it is like from the sky.

When you walk into the grocery store in the summer, you know there is a Ring of Fire happening somewhere local when there are boxes of flares to be purchased. Out of towners may be confused and think that we all must break down and use flares on the side of the road often, but actually they are for the Rings of Fire. Residents purchase them and space them out on their property around 15 feet apart to create the glow. My family likes to pound them into pieces of scrap wood covered with aluminum foil so that the grass doesn’t get all burnt up or catch on fire.

The three rings of fire that I am most familiar with are Keuka Lake, Conesus Lake, and Canandaigua Lake. I can remember times when I was younger that we would get to go to all three in the same year. Conesus Lake holds their ring of fire on July 3rd every year. Keuka Lake holds their ring of fire on July 4th every year. Canandaigua Lake’s ring of fire is always on Labor Day weekend. When it is time for the Ring of Fire to begin, everyone lights their flares and the lake suddenly is surrounded by a red fiery ring. Oftentimes this is also the time that a lot of fireworks displays are going off as well.

The Ring of Fire on Canandaigua Lake has a rich history as it reenacts the Seneca’s thanksgiving for peace and abundant services. A fire is lit at the top of Bare Hill on the east side of the lake, then residents around the lake follow by lighting their flares creating the red ring. The people of the Seneca celebrated Genundowa (Festival of Lights) where lake fires of tobacco were lit to express gratitude for being saved from the Great Snake and for a bountiful harvest, good hunting, and fishing.

For whatever reason you are celebrating the Ring of Fire, I hope you enjoy the unique event.

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