Thousands prepare to race bulls at San Fermin
6 July 2005, PAMPLONA — The Festival of San Fermin began with the traditional "chupinazo," or rocket blast, signaling the start of nine days of parties best known for the running of the bulls and heavy drinking.
6 July 2005
PAMPLONA — The Festival of San Fermin began with the traditional "chupinazo," or rocket blast, signaling the start of nine days of parties best known for the running of the bulls and heavy drinking.
Close to a million people are expected to visit the northern city of Pamplona over the next week to join festivities scheduled to end at midnight on July 14.
City councilwomen Idoia Saralegui officially opened the event. The 34-year-old politico, only the seventh woman to enjoy that privilege, chose to use the feminine gender when speaking in Spanish to refer to both sexes.
She then lit the rocket, which took a few seconds to go off, as the crowd cheered the city's patron, whose feast day is Thursday.
The "chupinazo" was the cue for people to tie red scarves around their necks and uncork thousands of bottles of "cava," or sparkling white wine, while shouting "Long live San Fermin!"
The most popular aspect of the festival is without a doubt the "encierros," or bull runs.
Each day at 8 a.m., hundreds of people run ahead of six fighting bulls along a stretch of the 800-metre (875-yard) route separating the corrals and the ring, where afternoon bullfights will take place.
The peculiar chase through the medieval streets of Pamplona's historic center, which usually lasts four minutes, is especially dangerous because some runners take part in the event after all-night drinking binges.
This makes them reckless and more likely to get too close to the bulls, which weigh in excess of 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds).
The running of the bulls is patrolled by experts who control the route and try to prevent accidents, but inevitably runners fall, suffer cuts and bruises and are even gored by the animals.
This year features a special remembrance of Matthew Peter Tassio, the 22-year-old U.S. citizen who was fatally gored by a bull on July 13, 1995.
Some 50 journalists from a dozen countries around the world were granted credentials to cover the festivities immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in 'The Sun Also Rises', which the Nobel laureate wrote after taking part in the festival in the 1920s.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news