I’ve seen a lot of amusing, bizarre and downright nutty things while traveling. Something that hovers near the top of the list is the “Burning Of The Beetle” celebration in Custer, South Dakota.
After the holidays, residents are asked to recycle their Christmas trees which are then placed underneath a gigantic wooden replica of mountain pine beetle. (The mountain pine beetle has been a nemesis for the Black Hills, though they’ve now largely been eradicated according to the U.S. Forest Service.)
A couple of weeks later, a crowd gathers in a nearby parking lot, takes up lit torches, and marches through the streets of Custer. With the high school marching band in the lead, banging on drums, the mob begins chanting the phrase “burn beetle burn”. Together in unison the group continues to chant as they raise their torches toward the sky and head toward the giant beetle in a downtown park.