Fireworks display pays tribute to San Juan de Dios -

Fireworks display pays tribute to San Juan de Dios

(CBS News) - Residents in Tultepec, a small town just north of Mexico City, staged a spectacular firework display on Monday to pay tribute to the patron saint of firework makers San Juan de Dios during a week-long national pyrotechnics fair.


Dozens of imposing firework "castillos" (castles), made in the shape of bulls and even beetles, lit up the sky in the main square.

The bulls are made from light wooden structures, covered with paper and cardboard.

Rockets, which fire colorful lights, cover the wooden structures and when they are detonated the bull moves in different directions.

Thrilled daredevils shouted "fire! fire," as they jumped and danced around the structures during an event called the traditional burning of the bulls.

"Adults and youngsters take part. It's a social occasion, a way to celebrate traditions and Mexico. Nothing else, the pride of being Mexican," said resident, Norberto Orozco.

Youngsters dressed in nothing other than thick clothes with hoods try to endure standing next to the burning bulls for the longest time possible. But they are not except from sustaining injuries. Every year, local authorities report a number of moderate to serious burn victims.

The bulls are made by local firework makers. Tultepec is considered Mexico's capital of pyrotechnics because local workshops produce about 80 percent of fireworks used around the country. The firework trade here began in the late 19th century.

Residents in Tultepec adopted San Juan de Dios as their patron saint because according to legend this Roman Catholic saint rescued patients from a burning hospital.

"This fiesta is to honor San Juan de Dios. San Juan the Dios is the patron saint of firework makers because San Juan de Dios had a hospital that caught fire on one occasion. Legend has it that San Juan walked into the blazing building to rescue the ill," said resident Norbano Solano.

Firework makers pray to San Juan to keep their workshops safe from a fire accident.

The first annual pyrotechnics fair was inaugurated on March 4 1989 to strengthen and promote this artistic trade.


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