Squashed tomato battle paints Spanish town red
Wednesday 31 August 2011
Tens of thousands of revellers splattered each other with 120 tonnes of squashed tomatoes Wednesday in a gigantic annual food fight known in Spain as the Tomatina.
The streets ran red with slippery juice as nearly 40,000 people, many stripped to the waist and drunk with sangria, pelted each other in the Plaza Mayor square and nearby streets of Bunol, eastern Spain.
Five trucks unloaded the ammunition on participants from around the world, including tourists from the United States, Japan and Australia, before the battle commenced with a firework being set off.
Within minutes, the town of 10,000 inhabitants resembled a war zone awash in tomato sauce.
"I felt one tomato hit really hard here and another hit me really hard here," said 30-year-old American tourist Grady Helmann, pointing to his chin and forehead.
"It was a blast. I feel like I am in a tomato soup."
Keeran Fitzgerald, 26-year-old Australian, said: "It was the most amazing thing ever."
Minami Matsimuta, a Japanese participant found the crowd a bit much.
"It was so crowded. People, like, kept pushing, kept throwing tomatoes," she said.
Despite the wanton destruction of the red fruit, the festival turns a good profit for Bunol, said town hall spokesman Rafael Perez.
The town spends 100,000 euros ($144,000) on the party including 30,000 euros ($43,000) on the tomatoes, he said.
But the money spent by tourists in the town before and after the festivities more than makes up for it, he said.
The rules of battle are strict.
Revellers must crush the tomatoes before throwing them to lessen the impact, wear old clothes that can be thrown away, and put on old tennis shoes rather than sandals, "which can get lost in the juice," organisers say.
They are also advised to wear swimming goggles, "because the acidity of the tomatoes stings the eyes."
Some 200 police were on hand in case of incidents.
The "Tomatina" is held each year in Bunol, located in a fertile region some 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Valencia, Spain's third-largest city, on the last Wednesday in August.
The event is thought to have its roots in a food fight between childhood friends in the mid-1940s in the city.
In the 1950s the food fight was banned before being finally authorized by the town hall in 1957.
Since then it has grown in size as international press coverage brings more and more people to the festival.
For some participants, apparently, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
"Tonight we are not going to eat tomatoes for diner, no more tomatoes," said one British reveller, who gave his first name, Mark.
"I was more a giver than a receiver but if I was a receiver I would really enjoy it."
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
£12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Wakefield Deal...
Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: our .NET Developers / Software Dev...
£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...
£25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...