Swedish Christmas Goat Survives Holidays
GAEVLE, Sweden (AP) _ Its predecessors have been burned with cigarette lighters, leveled by a car and rocketed by fireworks. But this holiday season, the giant straw Christmas goat built in this Swedish city escaped destruction for the first time since 1997.
The merchants of Gaevle dismantled the huge straw display on Thursday, a few days ahead of schedule, because of the cost of hiring security guards to keep watch over it through the night.
``It’s an issue of cost, the surveillance is expensive,″ Christmas goat committee chairman Goeran Carlsson told the Gefle Dagblad newspaper.
The Christmas goat tradition was started in 1966 by merchants in Gaevle, 90 miles north of Stockholm. Since then, only 10 goats have made it through Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Most were burned _ some just hours after being erected in the first week of December.
The 1976 goat was hit by a car. In 1997, it was damaged by fireworks and from 1998 to 2001 it was set ablaze before the end of December.
During Christmas 2001, the goat was torched on Dec. 23 by a 51-year-old visitor from Cleveland. Lawrence Jones was convicted of inflicting gross damage and spent 18 days in jail.
The goat was left alone this season except for an early December raid when a vandal tried to set it on fire, causing only minor damage to one of its legs.