Christmas Eve In Boquerón, Panama

I LOVE fireworks. Who doesn’t? Well, my old dog, Penny. Just ask her. You like fireworks, girl?

I guess not.

I’ve seen some pretty good fireworks in my time. Of course the ones when you’re a kid are always spectacular since they’re such a new experience. As you grow older they have to get better. In the States, of course, most fireworks are professionally done. Oh, there are firecrackers. Cherry bombs and M-80s were wonderful when we could get them since they were illegal and cost most of a week’s allowance. But what fun!

Fireworks are a big part of celebrations in New Orleans. I remember one New Year’s Eve out at a girlfriend’s house in Metaire the whole neighborhood was setting off fireworks and the smoke was actually so thick it was like a fog between the houses. And when the World Fair was running in New Orleans they closed each night with a fireworks display. Most evenings I’d go sit out on the glider swing in the back yard and watch them light up the sky over the “Moon Walk” down by the French Quarter.

The Bi-Centennial display in Chicago in 1976 was pretty impressive. I was running a 300-passenger sight seeing boat seen here on the cover of a Chicago Yellow Pages.

Of course I had to work that night and we had the boat filled to capacity but it was still fun watching them from the water.

Without a doubt the best fireworks display I EVER saw was in Cannes, France, for their Bi-Centennial Bastille Day celebration. The fireworks were set off from three different locations: a barge moored out in the bay, one on a hillside to the west of the town and one from a hillside behind the town. When the displays went off overhead from the three locations at the same time it gave one a sensation of vertigo. And the whole thing was done synchronized to music. They’re big on that in France. Every year during the month of August there is an international fireworks competition in the village of Juan les Pins, adjacent to Antibes, and those displays are also choreographed to music.

Here in Panama fireworks are a big part of the Christmas Eve celebration. Why? I have no idea. But there are fireworks stands all over the area. The other day I went to the Chiriqui Mall and a huge, inflatable tent had been set up out front selling KaBoom “Fuegos Articifiales.”

For the past week kids in the neighborhood have been setting off firecrackers every now and them Some were definitely in the cherry bomb and M-80 category. LOUD. Then, last night things began to heat up. Sitting on my front porch you could hear firecrackers going off all around. Just listen to this. There’s no picture, but you can hear the noise. It must have sounded a little like this at the start of the “shock and awe” part of the invasion of Iraq.

That went on non-stop for well over an hour.

Now, my neighborhood is solidly middle class. There are no McMansions here. Only 25% of the families own a car. These are either retired Panamanians or solid working folks. What happened at midnight I can only speculate on how they were able to afford such a display. I suspect that the different families might have pooled their money to be able to afford what went on for a good 15 to 20 minutes non-stop. This is just a glimpse.

I thought it was quite impressive considering it was entirely funded out of the neighbors own pockets.

1 Comment

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One response to “Christmas Eve In Boquerón, Panama

  1. What fun! I didn’t realize how much a part of the Louisiana Christmas Eve celebration fireworks were – until this year. I think your neighborhood display was more impressive, but there surely were a lot of stands selling the things around Breaux Bridge and Lafayette. I didn’t hear or see so many – it was a little drizzly, so that may have put a damper on things.

    I’ll bet there was some pooling of resources in your part of the world. Do they shoot them off for New Year’s, too?

    We’ll find out tomorrow night. I suspect they will.