Tuesday 28th June 2022 – Mike Smith
Source: original article
The return of the biggest party of the year in Xàbia – the Fogueres de Sant Joan – was brought to an emotional end on Friday night, the culmination of an extraordinary edition which featured an precedented three quintàs, two days of flower offering, two days of float parades and a remarkable restoration of the iconic Nit dels Focs.
The last day kicked off less than three hours after the last of the weary heads touched their pillows after that truly fantastic ‘night of the fires’, the sound of rockets and fire-crackers breaking the silence of the morning of a local bank holiday. And then, somehow, those young heads were coaxed from their beds for the final time, traditional costumes slipped on once again, and a series of parades under the hot midday sunshine brought more than 160 of those protagonists to the heart of the historic centre to celebrate a special mass in honour of Sant Joan, for this day was his feast day.
The sheer number of people meant that the mass was delayed by almost an hour, a knock-on effect for those hundreds waiting patiently at the Plaza de la Constitución for the traditional mascletà, a celebration of noise, rather than colour. Eventually, close to 2.30pm, the square was rocked by that remarkable series of explosions, the thunder in the sky, the earthquake on the ground, hands clasped around ears in response. Yet, the appreciative applause was equally noisy at the end.
As evening approached, the quintàs gathered in front of the Fogueres Central for a final photo before it is engulfed in flames later in the evening, before making their way down to the bottom of town for the second float parade of the fiesta.
As night fell, it was the Foguera Infantil, located in Placeta del Convent, that was set alight in a grand explosion and the first tears flowed from emotional eyes. Fireworks lit up the sky, the flames grew higher, gently controlled by the duty fire fighters, before everyone retreated for a quick bite to eat and to change out of those restrictive traditional clothes before the grand finale.
At the stroke of midnight, the night sky was filled with bright colours and music as the experts of the renowned pyrotechnic company Ricardo Caballer SA (RICASA) offered another stunning display in front of a packed main square in Xàbia, so worthy of a great applause at the end.
And then attention turned to grand monument and the last act of the day – the burning of the Foguera Central. The great statue was prepared, the elements that had been chosen the previous day to be saved from the flames removed. On the balcony of a nearby apartment block, a string for firecrackers burst into life and rushed towards the monument to great cheers. The statue exploded into flames. more fireworks lit the air, a and emotions swept through the crowd.
On one side of the square, the three quintàs jumped together in unison; on the far side, as has long been tradition, the youngsters who will make up Quintà 2023 did the same. Tears flowed, friends hugged each other, songs were exchanged.
When it was deemed safe to do so, Quint[as 2020, 2021 and 2022 were allowed to climb over the barriers, join hands and dance around the flames, fire-fighters spraying water over the embers and over the youngsters themselves. Members of the Fogueres Commission, those volunteers who had worked tirelessly throughout the two weeks – and for months beforehand – eventually joined in, a grand family which hugged and cried together. The end had arrived. The conclusion of the return – finally! – of the biggest party of the year in Xàbia.
And now the planning begins for Fogueres 2023 …