A 28-metre-high statue costing 900,000 euros to build crashed to the ground under the horrified gaze of workers, as high winds could have caused tragedy at this year’s Fallas (Fires) in Valencia. Two of the statues known as ninots, to be burned in the City Hall Square fell victim to the wind while they were being erected and luckily none of the workers was injured as they tumbled down. One of them was the largest entry this year, and its creator, Pedro Santaeulalia, needed a team of 20 people, four fork lifts and a crane, to help assemble the structure but the wind dashed his hopes of winning the Best Statue contest. The structure had been under construction since last year’s Fallas and it will be next to impossible to reassemble it for the big night on March 19th, El Dia de San José (St Joseph’s Day), when all the statues are stuffed with fireworks then set alight, turning the city into a vision from Hell. Not all of the statues go up in flames. Each year, one is spared from destruction by popular vote and to take its place in the local Falla Museum along with the other favorites from years past. Preparations for next year’s Fallas begin almost immediately when organised groups of people in every neighbourhood in the city start holding parties and dinners to raise funds to build their falla out of cardboard, wood and plaster, which will be positioned at one of the more than 350 key intersections and parks around the city. The statues are very lifelike and usually depict bawdy, satirical scenes and current events (lampooning corrupt politicians and Spanish celebrities is particularly popular). They take about six months to construct and can cost hundreds of thousands of euros. This is the first time for more than 150 years that the Fallas have coincided with Semana Santa and they will have to compete with the processions taking place all over Spain, with those of Sevilla, Granada and Malaga attracting the most visitors. Many people will probably hang around for the climax of the Fallas on Wednesday, the 19th, but they’ll still have time to catch the best of the processions elsewhere. Those wanting a more relaxed Easter weekend will just have to hang around their home towns and villages, where less spectacular processions are the norm.
NEAR MISS FOR WORKERS AS WINDS TOPPLE STATUES