Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It's Hard to Explain

It’s been a few days since the fire, smoke and mayhem of the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Melaque. We have been busy getting our gear packed up for the journey back to the states.  We are ready to get on the road, so now I can take time and tell you a little bit about the event centered on St. Patrick’s Day.

The town of Melaque is one of three small towns all rolled into one larger one. Villa Obregon and San Patricio are the other two small bergs.  San Patricio is the strong connection point to St. Patrick, their name sake.  When March 17th comes around the people of this area celebrate that date by holding a celebration that lasts nine days.

Each day is welcomed by five large explosions around 5 AM in the morning.  Then in the afternoon a parade is announced by five more explosions.  Church comes next at about 6 PM and they set off five more explosions. Then as most of the town and gringos gather in the jardin at around 11 PM,  five more explosions take place followed by pure mayhem.

Linda and I went down to the center of town and watched this nightly event twice while we were here.  Each time was progressively bigger and more exciting. If you look the event up and read the numerous descriptions, each author will tell you that it is hard to explain exactly what happens and most people will tell you that pictures or video come nowhere near to showing you the pandemonium of the actual event.

Here is how the nights go.  Everyone gathers in the jardin in front of the church beginning around 9 PM.  There are booths and vendors everywhere. You can buy food, shirts, and toys; practically anything in this area.  On the Sunday night we were there I estimated the crowd to be around 2500.  Everyone mills around drinking and enjoying the evening.  As entertainment, bands are gathered about playing.  There were three different types of bands playing that night; one traditional mariachi band and two of the brass and drum oriented Mexican bands. All three were playing at the same time all within about 25 yards of each other.

The crowd grew until about 11 PM when five rockets were shot off right above the square.  Then everyone moved into their position of choice for the fireworks part of the celebration.  Each day a large Castillo is created and this becomes the center of the nightly event.  The Castillo is lit, one side after another, and the fireworks shoot off.  As this fire and smoke happens, kids dance and run under the sparks of the fireworks above.  Rockets shoot off in every direction, some go skyward but many shoot directly into the crowd of people gathered about the jardin. People scatter everywhere as these rockets rip into the crowd. The Castillo explodes in layers moving up toward the top or the corona.

The corona shoots off and soars into the sky. After it reaches its pinnacle, it loses power and plummets back to earth landing in the crowd below. The crowd goes nuts! Large fireworks explode above everyone as the people cheer.

At this point you would think that the evening’s excitement was over, but not yet. Out of an area next to the church charges a person, el toro, swinging a rope with the framework of at bull’s head tied on it. From this device and from somewhere on this person fireworks and rockets shoot into the crowd.  This person chases the crowd and everyone dodges the fire and sparks that are being flung in every direction.  It is so hard to explain this part of the evening that I just won’t.  People go everywhere, sparks and rockets follow. It is amazing that nobody is killed.

As I said we watched this event twice.  I took video of the two nights and put them together into the video below. Things to note:  As the Castillo goes off, watch for the rockets shooting into the crowd below.  Then note the children running below the fireworks.  Finally there is a shot of the corona landing in the crowd behind me; check that out.  I was not able to get video of the bull in the crowd because the first night I ran out of video space and the second night I was too far away for good video footage.


Steve Fitzgerald said...

Was that Ernie Gumprect on trombone?

Jodi said...

I loved your description, amazing. And more amazing is that no one was killed. Apparently Mexican citizens are not the litigious type.