The Australian company Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics Ltd. has been fined over $80,000 by a government agency that found it responsible for burns suffered by a volunteer during a performance at an elementary school. The report does not provide many details, which is unfortunate, given the ones that it does provide:
[The agency] says fireworks were ignited around an area where the man was performing a traditional donkey dance wearing a costume which also emitted sparks.
He had performed the dance at the religious community event for years.
"During the performance, the 59-year-old man moved to an area where the sparks from his costume ignited a ground flare, resulting in a fireball which burned his hands and face," [the agency] said.
The magistrate apparently found that the company erred by offering the donkey dancer personal protective equipment that was unsuitable for use with the costume.
A number of questions come to mind.
- I should probably know this, but which religious tradition is it that involves a dancing, sparking donkey?
- I found references to a "donkey dance" tradition in China, but it doesn't seem to be religious in nature. Actually, since the description says "[t]he 'donkey' sometimes goes fast, sometimes goes slow and sometimes falls in a pit while the man works up a big sweat wrestling and struggling with the animal," I guess it doesn't seem very religious at all.
- I suppose I'm only assuming this is part of a religious tradition because it was reportedly performed at a "religious community event." But for all I know, this guy just has a "tradition" of showing up in his burning donkey costume every year, and they let him do his thing.
- What kind of "personal protective equipment" would you offer someone wearing a donkey suit? Maybe a better question is, what kind would be "unsuitable for use" with such a suit?
- Maybe an even better question is, if his donkey suit gives off sparks to begin with, why doesn't he already have his own personal protective equipment?
- Most importantly, how do you let a sparking donkey dancer get within a mile of a massive professional fireworks setup?
I hope to have answers to at least some of these questions in the near future.