There were people gathering, many with snare
and other marching drums, all clothed in devil costumes of heavy cotton.
Back out on the square there was a large stage set up. As the hours passed
toward nightfall, the stage filled with drum sets. To one side of the
square, a large fenced staging area for "Las Colles," "Diablos"
and "Dracs," was set up. Opening on to the square was a Disney-esque
wooden gate with a dragon coiled at the top and to the side of it was the
shield of Barcelona done in lance work. You could drive a semi truck through
As dark fell, the crowd swelled to well over 50,000 people, all very civilized and polite to one another but packed into the square. We don't know how many people were present along the parade route but it appeared to be about 5 miles long, winding through the Gothic quarter.
Whole generations of families and lots and lots of children were present. My wife and I noted that the children seemed to represent a focus to all the activities; parents were trying to get even the very young as close to the action as possible.
When night finally fell, the excitement in the crowd picked up. We were about 100 yards from the gates, right in the middle of the square. The lights lit the stage and 20 or so young men came out on stage. They began drumming out a repeating cadence fully amplified that filled the square and the environs for blocks around. After warming up the crowd, they stopped and a speaker read off the names of "Los Colles" for about 15 minutes. The crowd cheered for their favorites as they were mentioned.
There was a prayer for peace in Bosnia and then the lance work was lit off. The people all started to sing a song which I assume was an anthem of the City. The lance work contained beautiful blues, yellows, and whites.
When the shield had finished, there was a pause of a few minutes and then the gates cracked open. Behind the gates, there erupted some aerial salutes, a shower of comets and mines which lasted for ten minutes and filled the square with smoke. I've never seen so many people so close to the shoot site before. The colors were fabulous and there were many comets with spiral tails and shells of turbillions all firing right over our heads. More salutes followed as the gates fully opened onto the crowd that had filled the square.
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