Burning kid — how a father accidentally set his kid on fire in a Spanish town and made all the villagers run
Ayelo de Malferit, Summer ’14
A warm evening breeze wandered through the streets of the old town. It was one of those real old Spanish towns. Yellow-ish looking stone houses made to stand the everlasting heath and some spare palm trees. Everybody knew each other.
The streets filled up with people. It was one of those summer evenings you had to be outside as long as possible. While late, it was still warm. People were everywhere. Dressed in shorts and t-shirts. Young and old. Kids were running through the streets, their parents and elderly sat on plastic chairs next to the road. Young adults were eating and drinking at the local pubs, every few minutes interrupted by some friends that walked by. Tonight was the night. The night of Correfoc.
Tonight the old Catalan folkloric event, where people dressed as the devil and armed with fireworks would chase the people through the narrow streets, was about to happen. While walking around I got some strange looks. Not many visitors were seen here. One of the benefits of traveling with a local. You get to see the real thing.
An old grandpa was sitting on a stone fence and looked at me. Through his thick glasses, I saw the Spanish eyes trying to define me. How happy he was, sitting there, old, in the middle of the night enjoying the people and warm weather. Or maybe he knew that was coming…
A large crowd gathered at the central square of the little town. The atmosphere was amazing. It was dark but still warm. The streets got lightened up by street lanterns and party lights that shined their yellow spare light over the heads of the visitors. The whole town was here. Young and old. From zero to at least eighty years old looking at the old man standing next to me. Here at the square, the parade of Correfoc would find its climax. Soon the night would be lighted up with fireworks and noise. In the crowd I found myself standing next to my friends and the old man. The noise of the approaching parade became louder.
Kids in the crowd started to move more nervous by the minute. Then, the first devil came around the corner followed by a full parade of noise, shooting fireworks and scary dressed-up people. In the middle of the night, the spectacle was impressive to see. Fireworks were shooting through the dark sky, lighting up the scary silhouettes of the demons and devils. Kids and elderlies got chased when they came to close. Then the best act of the evening was about to begin.
A father had put his kid on a bike filled up with shooting fireworks so the kid could bike around after people, while the fireworks would shoot at them and made them run. Unfortunately, the father had put some of the fireworks in the wrong directions aiming at the kid on the bike. While biking, suddenly the kid found itself in the middle of a beam of fireworks. Panicking and without thinking the kid raced with its bike into the crowd of people that was looking at the parade.
In seconds I found myself next to my friends and the old man running for our lives. The father of the kid had noticed what was happening and started running after the kid. In the blink of a second, I realized the hilarious scene that was happening. A kid on a bike with shooting fireworks was racing through a crowd of running people while its father chased him down while screaming to get off the bike.
A minute or so the spectacle took everyone’s attention. A group, including myself, was running for its life, while the rest got their best show of the evening. The night sky was filled with screaming and laughter. Then the father managed to drag the kid off the bike, pushing him to the ground and trying to extinguish the flames that had gotten grip of the kid his clothes. Luckily the clothes were a fire protective suit.
When the kid and father got up unharmed (not counted the kid his trauma) the whole village cheered and the father and kid got a standing ovation. A fast look around made me realize nobody got hurt by the shooting fireworks. Slowly a smile formed on my face. Did this really happen? It was the first night of my stay in Spain and I realized it right away. Spain can be crazy.
A story by Martijn Droger.
Thank you for being my audience.