Spaniards paint the town red in annual tomato festAugust 27th, 2009 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS
Bunol, Spain, Aug 27 (EFE) A human tide made up of more than 45,000 people from around the world inundated the streets of this eastern Spanish town with tomato sauce during the “Tomatina”, a gigantic food fight with tomatoes in which more than 120 tonnes of the vegetable were used.
Ninety minutes before the start of the tomato battle, the streets of Bunol, 40 km from Valencia, began to fill with people looking for a spot to either watch or participate in the melee shouting “Tomato! Tomato!” and awaiting the next annual round of the traditional celebration that is now in its 64th year.
Despite the ban on throwing wet shirts due to the damage they can cause to other participants, a few minutes before the official start of the Tomatina there was a “pitched battle” in which clothes, towels and garments of different colours were hurled back and forth by the excited crowd.
At 11 a.m., the firing of a rocket was the signal for the multitude to grab ripe tomatoes from six large trucks and start sending salvoes back and forth at each other.
For the next hour, local residents and visitors engaged in a tomato battle that ended up with virtually everyone covered head to toe with red sauce and fragments of crushed tomato.
The participants, most of them dressed in old clothes and wearing goggles or other eye protectors, hurled tomatoes at the closest targets, or at people they knew, and some even fired their missiles at the balconies overhanging the street, where onlookers, reporters and photographers perched to view the fray.
As the minutes passed and the barrages flew, the streets, storefronts and shouting and smiling participants became steadily more covered in smashed tomatoes. Some people crushed their tomatoes before they threw them to minimize the pain they might cause when they hit their targets.
Although many of the participants just wore bathing suits for the melee, some fashioned improvised raincoats out of trash bags, or sported various costumes and shower caps.
At the firing of a second rocket at noon the 2009 Tomatina finally came to an end and the sauce-coated participants headed for the river and the public showers set up by the municipality to help people clean the remains of thousands of tomatoes from their bodies, hair and clothing.
About half an hour later, local residents and municipal workers began using hoses to start cleaning the streets, which - incredibly, in just a matter of minutes - were spic and span, showing no signs of the recent tomato tussle.
More than 40 police personnel, 70 members of the civil protection service, nine ambulances and assorted first aid stations were positioned along the street where the battle took place.
Municipal officials reported at the close of the Tomatina that there had been no serious incidents, although some people had received first aid for bruises, small lacerations, overheating or hypothermia.
Thus ended another edition of the “most enjoyable fiesta in the world”, in the words of Bunol Mayor Fernando Giraldos, a celebration that decades ago began as a friendly battle among neighbours.
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Tags: balconies, barrages, bathing suits, eye protectors, food fight, gigantic food, human tide, melee, old clothes, onlookers, pitched battle, raincoats, ripe tomatoes, spanish town, storefronts, tomatina, tomato sauce, traditional celebration, trash bags, wet shirts