Fireworks for Mary

Last night, in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the local church dedicated to her had music and fireworks.

The music was provided by an “estudiantina” – a student band from the local university, which was excellent. And the fireworks were spectacular, but not at all in the way that we are accustomed to seeing them in the States.

Behold, the “Castle”:

A metal structure with moving parts, rigged with hundreds of firecrackers, all held precariously in place by a few cables. And those trees – they’ll be fine.

Probably a better way to translate the Spanish “castillo” in this case would be as “tower” – a “fireworks tower”.

Nobody’s died yet!

For your viewing pleasure, I shot a series of videos with my overrated camera and even more overrated cell phone (as I ran out of memory on my camera). Here is the first video, then if you are reading this via the blog’s main page, you can click on “Continue Reading” below it to see the rest of the videos. It took all night for these to upload, so slow is Youtube nowadays, and I hope that they display OK.

The first video: the gentleman who is in charge of the pyrotechnics starts chain-smoking and getting the first fuse ready (the cigarettes serve a dual purpose, I think: (1) giving him a bit of relaxation as he lights these fireworks, stands beneath them, shakes the tower to spark all the fuses, etc.; (2) also they are a convenient lighter for the fuses…):

Here the first fuse is lit and things start to get exciting:

Note how he starts shaking the tower to ensure all the fuses light:

Things start to get really exciting:

Not sure why this video came out so blurry. Again, overrated camera:

Switching to the cell phone camera – the sound quality is not as good, so at certain times you can hear the fireworks, at other the bells, at others the band:

This one really showered us with sparks – and they started setting fireworks off from the roof of the church as well:

The sparks from this one were even worse:

The tower still stands, in spite of repeated shaking:

This was a trick one – it seemed underwhelming after some of the previous ones, but little did we know that after a few seconds of apparent inaction it would trigger a fuse higher up. Thus I stopped filming, not realizing that there would be another ignition shortly thereafter.

One of the moments for which everyone waited: the illumination of the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The camera doesn’t pick up the detail well at all, but basically, after the initial sparks and explosions there remains lit up an outline of a crowned Madonna and Child; meanwhile, the bells start to ring with greater gusto and everyone gets even more excited.

Following the illumination of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, now there is the illumination of the “flos carmeli” – the Flower of Carmel. Note how the petals open as the fireworks ignite:

And last, but certainly not least, the grand finale: when the very top part of the “castle” takes off into flight. With the castillos that I’ve seen in the past, it flew a bit farther away and landed on some building or something, to be retrieved later. This one, however, provided us the extra excitement of landing right in front of us, just to the right of the tower!

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