Kiryas Joel lights bonfire to celebrate Jewish holiday
Thousands of people gathered in Kiryas Joel Wednesday to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Lag B'Omer.
The traditional bonfire held during the holiday honors one of the founders of Hasidic Judaism, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who died 1,900 years ago.
Teams of organizers spent much of Wednesday readying the bonfire, erecting a stage and setting up barricades for a potentially huge crowd. There were more than 30,000 people who attended in 2014.
While a statewide burn ban is in effect, police say that the bonfire will still go on because it qualifies for a religious exemption.
Extra troopers, along with Kiryas Joel public safety teams, were on hand to help local firefighters watch the blaze and the crowds.