STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Vandals tried to set fire to a giant straw goat in central Sweden but failed to burn down the traditional Christmas monument, which has been soaked with flame-resistant chemicals, officials said Friday.
The overnight raid was the season's first attack on the 13-meter-high (43-foot-high) Christmas goat in the city of Gavle, 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Stockholm. The goat has been burned down more than 20 times in the last 40 years in what has become a yule tradition.
"Somebody tried to set fire to the right front leg, but the flame-resistant chemical worked 100 percent," said Kurt Lagerholm, chairman of the goat committee.
"There's smell of gasoline and the ribbon is a bit smutty, but otherwise it's unhurt," he said.
Since it was first erected on Dec. 3 in 1966, the goat has been hit by flaming arrows, run over by a car and even had its legs cut off — surviving only 10 times beyond Christmas Day.
This year, officials doused the straw goat with flame-resistant chemicals and set up two 24-hour Web cams to try to protect it, but Lagerholm said the overnight attackers managed to sneak past the cameras by coming in at the only angle the cameras did not reach. The suspects were still at large Friday.
Last year's goat was burned down by vandals dressed up as Santa Claus and the Gingerbread Man. They were never caught.