The busy street that runs in front of Llano Park, Benito Juarez, was closed down. Three men were building a giant castillo (castle, a term for a tower of fireworks). A tribute to the Virgen de Guadalupe, the castillo featured a Christmas bell, parts that would spin, and more.

As the crowd was growing and a band was playing, men began to whistle to summon the show.

At last, the toritos were lit (a torito is a small bull, but this is also a word to describe the animal a man wears which carries fireworks that he lights just as he begins prancing around very close to the crowd).

I was standing within reach of three pipes. I was not sure what the pipes were for, but I soon found out.

Straight of of a roadrunner cartoon, the three men unveiled seven Acme-looking balls of dynamite. They were safely carried in an old cat food bag. They all had a wick which was light just before each ball was dropped into the canon (one of the pipes).

One of the men instructed me to move back. I did. I moved as far as his truck, thinking he wouldn’t want to blow up his truck. Another yelled, “Echar una bola”(Throw a ball). And, fire erupted from the canon. And, I ran as quickly as I could, farther back and farther out of the way.

As I was sprinting, young children, with their grandmother, were also trying to head away from the canons. They were using me as a shield, and we were all coughing in the smoke. Another ball shot into the sky, and we moved some more, and the grandmother began yelling at the children, “La señora, la señora,” as they almost trampled me.

In Spanish class, I told the story and showed the video of me running with the herd of children in the dark. My teacher didn’t seem so surprised. In fact, he asked, “What? You can’t get this close to fireworks in the US?” Then he described how one time his daughter’s hair caught on fire after a chispa (spark) fell over them.


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