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La Tomatina Festival

La Tomatina Festival
August 25, 2000

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Rudy: "The last Wednesday of every August is a special day in the city of Bunol, Spain. That's when the locals and accompanied guests literally paint the town red. Well, I guess I should say they splatter the town red. The official name is "La Tomatina", that's Spanish for "Tomato Festival." But as anyone who's been to what's without a doubt the world's biggest no-holds-barred tomato fight will tell you, La Tomatina is anything but a paean to the fruit. Here to fill us in is Michelle Kholos, with this week's Culture Watch. Hi Michelle."

Michelle: "Hi Rudy."

Rudy: "So first question: what the heck is going on?"

Michelle: "Well, believe it or not, Rudy, La Tomatina started as a political fight. Way back in 1944, the story goes, the streets of Bunol filled with anti-Franco protesters. Now, the war was on and I guess tempers were hot. Instead of getting together in a peaceful manner..."

Rudy: "...they got out the fruits and vegetables and let 'em fly."

Michelle: "Eventually when the politics settled down, people realized, well, pelting each other with tomatoes is kind of fun. Eventually it turned sleepy Bunol into a bit of tourist town. Well, for one week out of the year, anyway."

Rudy: "Wait, this fight goes on for a whole week?"

Michelle: "No, no, no. The actual fight itself takes place the morning of the last Wednesday in August. But the week leading up to it is chock full of parades, giant paella cook-offs, fireworks, then there's a big celebration when the actual tomatoes arrive."

Rudy: "When the tomatoes arrive?"

Michelle: "Yeah, they have them trucked in from the far side of Spain."

Rudy: "Hmmm. So, as for the fight itself. What are the rules?"

Michelle: "Well fighting is allowed only during the designated fight hours: 11 to one. Only tomatoes can be thrown and all tomatoes must be crushed in your hand before letting them fly. Afterwards, these huge hoses are used to wash down the buildings and the people. One thing that's important to remember, should you choose to accept this mission, is to take an extra change of clothes and stash it somewhere before the fight starts. You wouldn't want to be the only one still wearing the war hours after it's finished."

Rudy: "Boy, then you'd sure have tomato on your face!"

Michelle: "???"

Rudy: "Get it? Egg on your face? Tomato on your face?"

Michelle: "Geez, Rudy."

Rudy: "Okay, okay, that's this week's Culture Watch."

Michelle: "Ugh. I'm outta here."


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