It was the worst thing that could have happened to Market Harborough’s community bonfire - set alight by vandals two days early.
But according to the main organise John Cooper, it turned into the best year ever, as the whole town rallied round to re-build the fire and save the day.
After publicity about the ruined bonfire - including the Mail printing Mr Cooper’s mobile number on its website - he said he had more than 200 calls to his phone offering more firewood.
“They ranged from a granny saying we could have her old chairs, to companies like Argos and David Wilson offering us lorry-loads,” he said.
“For me it was probably the most rewarding year I’ve ever had, because in the face of adversity the people of Market Harborough rallied round and donated in their hundreds.”
The result was the St Joseph’s Primary School bonfire - in the usual school field off Coventry Road, Market Harborough - was rebuilt in two days and attracted a record crowd on Saturday, November 7 (even if the crowd included hundreds dodging the entrance fee - £16 for a family of four - by watching for free from Welland Park).
Mr Cooper hoped the event would bring in at least £4,000 profit for the town school.
“I’d like to thank everyone - the businessmen and the townsfolk - who helped us rebuild,” he said.
“And though we were unable to collect everything we were offered in time, we’re still grateful for the spirit in which it was offered.”
The downside of the hastily re-assembled bonfire was it burnt too slowly. It was still smouldering on Monday, and took five hours to damp down.
“For one reason or another we were the talk of the town this year,” admitted Mr Cooper. “But I do hope next year will be simpler!”