The Lerwick Up-Helly-A’ committee has issued warnings to squads for this year’s fire festival in regard to the media.
Known for its carnival atmosphere the instructions from the Up-Helly-A’ committee may be seen by some as putting a bit of a dampener on the long night’s partying.
In the document squads are advised that, in relation to the increasing media interest in the festival, “there are a few who would like to present bad images”. Squads are instructed not to allow media into/onto their trucks and buses.
The committee is also attempting to control the posting of videos on sites like YouTube. It cites unsuitable material like “partying in the back of trucks, drinking on the Hillhead etc.” and goes on: “We do not want squads videoing the procession, burning site, squad huts and back of trucks/buses.”
Speaking apparently for all guizers, the commmitte thinks the experience should remain that of guizers and not of the world wide web users. The document states: “We as guizers are privileged to experience Up-Helly-A’ to the full, the experience should remain that of the guizers and not for anyone watching YouTube.”
The committee says it has received a couple of complaints from halls regarding damage from props and squads using smoke machines. It warns that if squads do not abide by the rules of the hall and/or “continue to damage halls then they will close, nobody wants this to happen”.
All this could be seen as a continuing effort of the committee to control the antics of squads and their natural exuberance during the festival. Considering the size of the festival and element of fire there is, surprisingly, very little trouble of any kind.
The festival was originally established to curtail an element of lawlessness on the streets of Lerwick during the long, dark winter. The Viking theme is a relatively recent addition.
It remains to be seen if the everyday guizer takes heed of the committee’s firm instructions; there is the general feeling that things will carry on as usual.