Each year bonfire builder dives into uncharted waters

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 14, 2013


LAPLACE – While the Christmas season yields bonfires aplenty in our local area, at least one Wallace man has decided to use his creativity to set his own apart — and he’s even starting to become a little well known for it.
A walk alongside the Mississippi River levee in Wallace will eventually reveal a “pirate ship” resting ashore, as Lloyd Taylor, along with family and friends, is in the midst of putting the finishing touches on their bonfire-to-be, shaped like the kind of seaworthy vessel one would find in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
“Every year, I tend to come up with something a little different I want to do, and this is what came to mind,” said Taylor. “I have a little model ship at my house, and it kind of came from there. I thought, ‘Why not build a pirate ship?’”
He’s been at this sort of thing for a while. Last year, Taylor’s bonfire took the form of a log cabin.
And when Taylor, now 51, was 29 years old, the bonfire he crafted was in the image of the Wallace Bridge — at the time, the real bridge had not yet been finished.
“I just kind of had a vision of what it would look like (when completed), so I gave it a shot,” said Taylor.
Born and raised in Wallace, Taylor has been pitching in to build bonfires since the age of 10.
The current project, he estimates, will be done by today’s end, the third consecutive Saturday that he and his group have assembled to make progress.
“This will be the third weekend, so it’ll go down as about three six-hour days of work on it,” said Taylor.
That said, he concedes that sometimes it hardly feels like work.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We’ll have guys hanging out, having cookouts over the next few Sundays before Christmas Eve, and it’ll be up for us to look at until it’s time to burn it.”
On that Christmas Eve, Taylor’s non-profit group, the Wallace Indians, will hold a gathering for the community where free meals, including gumbo, will be provided.
“It’s a way for  people here to come out and celebrate together as a community,” he said.
Though the ship is not even yet done, Taylor said that he’s fielded plenty of questions as to what comes next time around.
“I’m not quite ready to reveal that yet,” he said. “I’m actually still thinking. I’m considering the state of Louisiana … that’s been a thought, but nothing’s set in stone.”