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Townsfolk destroy Palin effigy with explosives

  • Story Highlights
  • Giant effigy of Sarah Palin blown up at fireworks display in southern England
  • Caricature destroyed as part of traditional celebrations in town of Battle
  • Event believed to date back to 1646
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By CNN's Barry Neild
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BATTLE, England (CNN) -- Townsfolk in England have delivered their explosive verdict on Sarah Palin, stuffing a giant effigy of the U.S. Republican vice presidential nominee with fireworks and blowing her up to raucous cheers.

Sarah Palin was depicted holding a machine gun, flanked by a moose and Barack Obama.

The unusual display was the climax of an annual bonfire celebration Saturday in the southern town of Battle, where political figures are a favorite target of a local tradition that sees a different icon destroyed each year.

This year's creation was a rather unflattering depiction of the self-declared "hockey mom," a machine gun brandished in her muscular arms, bright red lipstick surrounding a grimacing smile and a moose at her side.

Daubed beneath her was the slogan: "Too hot to handle."

The caricature of the Alaskan governor was flanked by a smaller effigy of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, wearing a military-style helmet. iReport.com: Man paints 100-foot Obama sign on lawn

Organizers of the event, which saw a procession of flaming torches march through the historic town before igniting a bonfire and detonating the effigy, say the politically-themed pyrotechnics were not meant to cause offense.

"We just felt she was one of the most interesting characters in the American elections," Matt Southam told the Rye and Battle Observer.

"It's tongue-in-cheek and she's getting more attention that the other two, so she seemed like an ideal candidate."

The event, believed to date back to 1646, has seen British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessor Tony Blair go up in smoke in recent years.

Despite heavy rain, Palin's likeness went up in seconds -- a shower of sparks followed by an giant bang, and an amused round of applause.

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