Straw Christmas goat destroyed by arson for the 34th time

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |   Dec. 28, 2015 at 1:54 PM
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GALVE, Sweden, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The traditional straw Christmas goat in Gavle, Sweden was given a fiery farewell by arsonists for the 34th time since the tradition began in 1966.

The city of Gavle has erected a straw goat sculpture to celebrate the Yuletide every year since 1966, and the goat has been destroyed by arsonists for 34 of its 49 years.

Residents congratulated the goat on its unofficial Twitter page for surviving this year's Christmas, but the celebrations were short-lived as someone managed to set fire to the 43-foot-tall straw goat -- or Julbocken -- in the city center just after 3 a.m. Sunday.

An intoxicated man in his 20s was arrested in the area shortly after the fire was discovered.

"The suspect was carrying newspapers and lighters and was wearing a balaclava," Police spokesman Peter Hultqvist told the Expressen newspaper. "He was drunk and smelled of petrol."

The 2014 goat managed to survive the holiday season thanks in part to security measures including a 24-hour webcam and security was bolstered again this year as the goat was due to visit Gavle's Chinese sister city, Zhuhai, in January.

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