La Mercè Festival Barcelona - “Correfoc” & Giants’ Parade (1989)
"On Saturday, in the late afternoon, the giants did their dance through the centre of the old city to the beat of drums. Every village & every district of the city kept its own giants & some took them to Barcelona for this festival. The giants’ faces were wonderfully made, perfectly still & serene as they were marched through the streets: kings, queens, Moors, pirates, harvesters, noblemen, noblewomen, all of them more than 15 feet tall, doing twirls & running for a stretch and then standing still so the small human carrying their weight could have a rest and their replacement take over.
Sunday night was the highlight….and by half past six…the crowds went towards Plaça de Sant Jaume. The square had been fitted out with overhead cables laden with fireworks; in front of the entrance to the Town Hall a huge devil had been built of more fireworks…..most of the people in the square were young, boys & girls in large groups, hats on their heads to protect themselves from the sparks, handkerchiefs at the ready to protect their lungs from the sulphur fumes.
At seven it began: the whole square became a mass of bangs and small explosions, a line of fireworks caught and the noise zipped over our heads with a spray of sparks. The devil in front of the The Town Hall lit up as though an electric shock had gone through it. And five minutes later it was over - the square was in darkness, the first bangs and thrills finished. Now it was time for the parade….one by one they came out, a procession of horrible and grotesque creatures. Their minders, holders and protectors were armed with sacks of fireworks and were prepared to stop without any notice, fix a few petards (fire-crackers) into their launchers and let them loose on the unsuspecting and excitable crowd. The procession was to end at Passeig de Colom, and at nine o’clock the last big display of fireworks would be shot into the air at the statue of Columbus, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the parade. This parade had begun in 1979, just as the city was getting on its feet again after the long rule of the old dictator…. an estimated 100,000 had watched the dragons and devils on the “Correfoc.
This is an excerpt from Colm Tóibín's book "Homage to Barcelona"