Following two days of discussions that often turned incendiary, Cuenca’s fire chief has agreed to allow some fireworks at the Corpus Christi festivities that begin tonight. The new rules, however, come with strings attached and event organizers and sponors say they are not happy.
Fire chief Oswaldo Ramirez agreed to allow castles, the bamboo towers rigged with small fireworks, to be fired off during the celebration with restrictions.
The ban continues for the paper hot air balloons, called globos, and for all types of rockets. Fire investigators blame last August’s fire that partially destroyed the San Luis Seminary adjacent to the cathedral, on a balloon that landed on the seminary roof.
Marco Matamoros, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cuenca, says he understands the restrictions but says he will work for a relaxation before next year’s event. “The fireworks are part of the intangible heritage of Corpus Christi. We need to be careful but we also need to perpetuate the tradition.”
Ramirez said he felt as if he were between a “rock and a hard place” during the disussions but that it was his job to ensure the safety of both people and the historic architecture of El Centro.
The restrictions include a limit of 10 kilograms on firework built into the castles and requires castle makers and sponsors to agree to accept liability if the fireworks cause damage to property or injure people.
Ramirez said there would be an expedited process to provide financial relief caused by fireworks.
The celebration of Corpus Christi is held annually, two months after Easter. Also called Setenario or Septenario, because it is celebrated over a seven-day period, the event is known in Cuenca for the sale of candy and pasteries as well as for fireworks. According to Cuenca pyrotechnic artisans, Corpus Christi fireworks were first fired off in 1681.
Almost 100 vendors are set up around Calderon Park selling sweets.
Photo caption: On Wednesday, vendors were preparing for Corpus Christi next to the cathedral.