There’s a tradition here in La Plata, Argentina of creating elaborate paper mache muñecos, and then burning them down on New Year’s Eve. The muñecos range from the beautiful to the surreal. It’s a tradition unlike anything else, and it makes for a wild New Year’s Eve.
Some of the muñecos are homages to popculture. You can get a sense for just how big they are by checking out my kids
Some are amazingly intricate.
Some are deeply cultural and could only qualify as amazing art. You can see the soccer stadium where U2 is going to play in April in the background.
Some of them are modest.
Others are freaking weird.
And some…some just blow you away.
Doesn’t my 18 month old look thrilled about the giant T-Rex? Yes, for the record, 90% of my clothing is Colts related. Thanks for asking.
Then I went home, grilled up some ribs with my friends, and took turns trying blow crap up. It was windy, so just lighting a match was a challenge.
At midnight, all hell breaks loose. Fireworks go off everywhere, and at scheduled intervals, people start lighting the muñecos on fire. Yes, they burn them to ground. After watching some friends in the shanty town burn theirs, we went to go see one of the big ones go off.
How many people turned out? THOUSANDS.
At 2 AM, the streets were FULL of people congregated to watch the crew of Ice Age burn a fire death. The builders took a torch to their creation. Oh, did mention the displays are all laced with fireworks? Yeah.
In case you were wondering, that IS hot embers and ash blowing into the fleeing crowd! After the whole thing burns down, the makers set off their fireworks show. It’s amazing how huge it was…and how close to it we were. The crowd was appreciative.
Here’s what Manny and company looked like before and after the torching:
From there, we moved over a few blocks to watch the Jurrasic Park burn to the ground. The grand prize winner for the city this year, they pulled out all the stops. Someone, I assume G.O.B Bluth, started blaring “Final Countdown” as they lit the bad boy on fire. Rockets on top of the ‘gate’ started firing. One tipped over and started spraying the crowd. As a spinning ball of light came toward me, I seriously said, “Oh. That’s not good.” As hundreds of us scattered, the ball exploded about 15 feet behind me. A little girl was slightly burned on the arm, but mostly everyone was fine. Eventually, fire consumed the massive T-Rex whole.
Giant flaming T-Rex’s at 3:15 in the morning? Yeah, you really can’t beat that. And, yes, I could feel the heat from where I was and there were hundreds of people between me and the blaze. After the burning, their fireworks show started. I can only describe it this way:
First the gate burned.
Then the world blew up.
The intesity and proximity of the show literally knocked me back. We all stood there, slack jawed and speechless. Unfortunately, the camera battery died, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
Oh yeah, one more thing, there was no fire department workers…ANYWHERE. There were no trucks standing by. There were no officials watching over anything.
It was the wild, wild West last night. And it was on fire.