alisacooper.typepad.com > Tultepec Pyrotechnics

(a) Legendary Bull

(a) Legendary Bull

More elaborate than the Tultepec bulls in the "Dancing with Bulls" video, this bull is painted from horn to hoof with illustrations of Mexican legends. The underbelly is hollow, so men can carry it through the streets, and the picador lances in its back are the most showy places from which to send rockets flying. Click on the images for more detail.


(b) Firework Tower Frames

(b) Firework Tower Frames

The three towers or "castillos" in this shot compose the winning entry from another Tultepec, on the outskirts of Toluca (Mexico state's capital). Impressive and imposing enough as un-lit skeletons, they were then transformed into the most transfixing of firework shows. So much knowledge and skill went into its construction, though an absence of Spellcheck in pyrotechnia was evident--in the tower on the right, "mexiquense" was spelled "mexiquence." Mexiquenses are we, the residents of the state of Mexico, and in light of the show's excellence, we were very forgiving in the spelling department!


(c) Fuse Lighters

(c) Fuse Lighters

Seated on the grassy expanse of the football field, fuse lighters waited for the third and final call to take their places behind the castillos. I'm sure stage fright was among the crew's members. This team, though, pulled off a perfect performance.


(d) Firefighters in the Mist, I mean Dust

(d) Firefighters in the Mist, I mean Dust

Firetrucks stood guard on both ends of the show's space. Fortunately, their water tanks didn't let loose a single drop during the entire evening. Unlike the grassy football field where the castillos were assembled, the public watched from a dusty stretch of land that left us all with muted colored hair and brown boogers. Not even the camera lens was spared.


(e) Eagle Warrior

(e) Eagle Warrior

Spinning in counter-clockwise glory, the eagle warrior was just one of the many figures lighting up a castillo's circular accessory.


(f) Metamorphosis

(f) Metamorphosis

Kindly, the pyrotechnists didn't destin the eagle warrior to a cockroach's fate. While the circle continued spinning, the warrior began morphing into a parrot.


(g) Said Parrot

(g) Said Parrot

Surrounded by eagle heads, the parrot spun in the warrior's former spotlight.


(h) Spherical Supernova

(h) Spherical Supernova

As a sphere of light ignited in one of the towers, the glow immediately silhouetted the audience in front of it--some even climbing the trees for a better vantage point.


(i) Visual Shout-Out

(i) Visual Shout-Out

Patriotism playing a part in a castillo's pinnacle.


(j) Spark Shower

(j) Spark Shower

After each castillo's show, the crews had an extra show of "bomba" fireworks as a finale.


(k) And the Winner Is...

(k) And the Winner Is...

It didn't take long for the judges to announce the winner. Unlike many ceremonies, though, the trophies weren't presented immediately, since the castillo builders were still on the field taking care of show's end business. I would have loved to hear an acceptance speech or two, but it was enough to know our favorite crew came out on top.


(l) A Very Happy Observer

(l) A Very Happy Observer

Sparklers were handed out toward the end of the evening to use as a form of post-performance applause. Patricio waved his with pride.


(m) Chiaroscuro

(m) Chiaroscuro

Though her face is shrouded in shadow, the woman behind us sent out quiet vibes of joy.


(n) People Sea

(n) People Sea

Patricio estimated that around five thousand people were there for the event. The judges raised the figure considerably. Whatever the case, spirits were high, as were the numbers, making for excited conversation and slow moving after the show.


(o) Extra Ingredients

(o) Extra Ingredients

Along the street leading from the field back to the main avenue, residents set up makeshift bakeries, taco stands and cantinas, selling their goods to the thousands walking past their homes. After all the dust, smoke and ash was kicked up nearby, the extra ingredients became a fine layer of the three mixed together. We decided on cinnamon pig cookies that had been pre-wrapped before the festivities began--a sweet treat to top off a visual feast.


(p) Gold. Glorious.

(p) Gold. Glorious.