If there had been an element consubstantial to our first steps in the sanjuanero bonfire ritual, a sign identifying our Bonfires, it was, undoubtedly, that paper globe that we began to throw to the skies of Corunna on June 23, 1962, when we planted our First bonfire.
From the beginning of our journey we always look for some differentiating element, capable of identifying ourselves, becoming an alternative to other fires much better than ours that burned in the nearby streets.
Tracks, fire roulettes, puppets or furs on top of the pyre, even fires of air, were elements of which, in one measure or another, the neighboring fires, some of them with a real waste of imagination and good work; However, no one, at that time, raised a balloon to sanjuanero sky on the night of high June.
Whose idea came from? Truth is something I am unable to remember. I suppose that it would arise from an internal debate in that group of children that formed the gang of Fernando Macias. Perhaps it was Carlitos Vallo who always distinguished himself for his genial ideas, although some of them were really pilgrims; I may even have brought the idea attracted by the slow and majestic ascension of the aerostats. At any rate, it was from which the idea came from, the fact is that Saturday June 23, shortly after midnight we raised our first paper globe together with two others who accompanied him in his heavenly journey.
The three balloons we were able to acquire them thanks to the reward obtained for having successfully passed the entrance tests in the Baccalaureate, an achievement at least seen from our childish perspective since it was something like the overcoming of the first obstacle in the then unconcerned life school.
In my case, my father, gave me with the not insignificant amount of 50 pts., Which I dedicated entirely to pay for the purchase of two balloons of 25 pts. each; On the other hand, Ovidio García, who had also approved the entry, acquired another and thus we presented ourselves, on the evening of the eve of San Juan, before our gang of friends after having previously passed through the Noah's Ark, a trade of Those of La Coruna of all the life that opened its doors in the number 70 of the street of San Andrés, in which, showing his commercial reason, could be found anything by very strange and singular that could appear.
At nightfall, in the presence of our parents and some other friend, as well as a handful of curious, we proceeded to the inflated balloons, a rite that demanded the utmost care, and once inflated with warm air we released them to take Our particular message to San Juan in that first Bonfire of Fernando Macías.
Of course at that time we were unaware that at the end of the nineteenth century, even at the beginning of the twentieth century, in La Coruña it was customary to release balloons to celebrate the verbena of San Juan and its traditional bonfire, something we learned after the years when we began to delve In the study of rites and sanjuaneras customs.
After the balloons rose before the expectation of the respectable, we ran to set fire to the pyre that burned among the hubbub of us all; Then, loops of the hands, we form the circle around the flames intoning the old song of the "sailor who fell into the water in the night of San Juan", the one whose chorus said "chiribiribí morena, chiribiribí salada", and when the intensity Of the fire decreased reasonably we performed the rite of the jump over the coals to purify ourselves face to the summer that has just begun.
After the first Bonfire with remarkable success, more came in the following years, and in all of them the paper balloon was even present, even of greater size, which constituted, so to speak, the strong number of the night and our genuine seal of identity.
Over the years, we consolidated our sanjuanera tradition and the Bonfire was adorned with long strips of firewood, roulettes of fire and fireworks, which caused that it became the best one of the zone, especially after, little to Little, disappearing those that could make us compete; However, in these years, the globe, our globe, was always present in the sanjuanera celebration, becoming an object of concern, both for its acquisition and for its elevation that demanded, as we have said, some expertise and at least the utmost care .
A proof that the elevation of the aerostat was a traditional element associated with our Bonfire we find it in those leaflets that we began to print in 1966, with which we invited our neighbors to join our acts, one of which serves to illustrate these lines . In it, as the outstanding figure of the feast, it is precisely the elevation of the globe.
In 1970 we chose the First Major Meiga, giving this way the party of a protagonist of exception able to displace any other but very traditional that was for us. In spite of everything, that year, we again raised our balloon to the skies shortly before the Greater Mother lit the Bonfire, once a collection of fireworks had been thrown into the air, which far exceeded all the burnings until that moment and which, in Practice, opened the doors to another dimension of San Juan at birth The Night of Burning.
The habit of raising the balloon still survived two more years; Both on the night of San Juan in 1971 and in that of 1972, our aerostat continued to sail through the skies in the night of Burning, trying not to lose this sign of identity, being precisely in 1972, ten years after that magical night of San Juan of 1962, when he made his last celestial journey.
The reason for it disappearing, I can not say. It is quite possible that the fact of not being able to acquire, by whatever procedure, a larger balloon, something in which we had worked unsuccessfully in previous years, led us to the conclusion that with the appearance of the figure of the Meiga Mayor and his Cavalcade, and above all, with the remarkable increase of the fireworks session, the balloon was a little out of place.
But if the sanjuanera pyromanica vocation was a constant adherent to our gang, something similar happened with the custom of throwing paper balloons to the sky that was not constricted to the night of San Juan; In other occasions and with varied excuses we collected economic resources, extracted from our purse, to acquire an aerostat and raise it majestically to the sky from our street of Fernando Macías. In any case, none of them was ever surrounded by the special mystique that surrounded the night of the Hogueras.
I even remember that on some occasion we tried to emulate, with some success, the art of the construction of aerostats and for that we made some rather rudimentary form using wrapping paper pieces that we joined with glue and that once taken the shape of balloon we finished With a string of wire and with the corresponding crosshead from which hung the set of hilas that, drenched in alcohol, served to generate the hot air necessary for its elevation.
I think I remember that most of those experiments ended with the burning of the aerostat before verifying its take-off of the ground, although, at least once, our prototype came to cross the air before the general exhilaration and joy.
Many were the anecdotes that revolved around our globe throughout the years, however we will limit ourselves to narrate, by way of example, the one happened the night of San Juan of 1970. That night, after proclaiming to the I Greater Meiga , At the right moment to begin the tasks of inflating the aerostat we realized that we did not have the necessary alcohol to impregnate the threads that were tied in the crosshead and with its combustion generate the hot air necessary for its ascent. The nerves that had not ceased to be present throughout the day returned to make an appearance, however the inconvenience was saved with a career of Carlos Vallo and Pepe Tomé to the pharmacy of Avda. De Finisterre, that night was curiously Of guard, where they acquired the combustible liquid being the problem solved without further incidents.
Today, more than forty-five years after abandoning the habit of celebrating with paper balloons our great annual event, we still remember it with nostalgia, since it somehow helped to strengthen us in our project of safeguarding for the city the essences and traditions of The night of San Juan.
José Eugenio Fernández Barallobre.