Throughout the long history of our Promoting Commission -more than forty-six years and almost fifty-five burning Bonfires on the night of San Juan- several spaces were chosen to plant our luminous arrival on the night of high June.
If between 1962 and 1965, the Bonfire was planted in the wide street of Paseo de Ronda (today Avda. De Calvo Sotelo), in front of the Riazor telephone exchange, from 1966 to 1969 we did it in the center of this wide avenue to stop burning another small one organized by the kids on that street.
In 1970, on the occasion of proclaiming the First Meiga Mayor, we returned to the location of the first years since all possible space was needed to place the tribune from which Estrella Pardo presided over that unforgettable Noite da Queima. It was a bit like going back to the origins that night of San Juan that served to initiate the resurgence of the FIREPLACES in our city.
The following year, 1971, in view of the notable influx of public and the success of the previous year, in addition to avoiding having to set up a stage with what this involved disbursement, we changed our traditional location and went to the neighbor Avda. De Calvo Sotelo, in front of the Colegio de la Compañía de María on the stairs we used, after requesting the pertinent permission from the nuns, so that from their balcony the Meiga Mayor and the Meigas de Honor could preside over each edition of a Noite da Queima.
Somehow, with that measure, we also wanted to pay tribute of admiration to those other young people in this area who for years burned there what was undoubtedly the best, at least the most ingenious and complete, Bonfire of San Juan in our city, of which we have also spoken already on occasion.
There, in that wide space open to the Riazor Sea under the watchful eye of our thousand-year-old Tower of Hercules, we stayed, not with few vicissitudes, until 1991.
Those were years in which thousands of people packed both Avda. De Calvo Sotelo and the nearby Plaza de Portugal; years in which many young women and girls from A Coruña lived, full of illusion, their particular dream of a night in San Juan; years in which the tradition was consolidated and the Promoting Commission made a hole in the social fabric of our city.
There are many anecdotes lived in that square in the twenty years in which we burned our Bonfires there. From the inevitable damage to the pavement, despite laying layers of sand, to the occasional scare that those of us who were occupying those stairs got, turned into a tribune of fortune for Meigas and guests.
Years in which we saw the first allegorical bonfires burned to replace the traditional pile of junk, old junk and stolen wood; Bonfires that were built both in our city, by ourselves, and brought from Valencia, made by professional Fallas teachers. Unforgettable years where what in the end has become the great night of A Coruña that thousands and thousands of people live with intensity every time the night of San Juan arrives.
There, in that square, we saw bonfires built, with more ingenuity than success, by members of the Commission with certain carpentry skills, but we also saw others made by more Coruñeses and better to know that they have contributed to writing some of the most important lines. highlights of our particular history.
Names such as Sánchez, Joaquín Castiñeira, Enrique Pellejero, Enrique Lago, Vidal or Romero, without forgetting the Valencian fallero master Burriel, are some that remind us of those Bonfires that we burned in front of the Colegio de la Compañía de María during these years.
However, something happened in early 1992 that changed everything.
I remember that, in both 1990 and 1991, the Bonfires built by my friend Enrique Pellejero and the late Enrique Lago, respectively, had caused some damage to the traffic lights that had just been installed in the area. I do not know if this was the trigger, although I think not according to what people of all solvency told us, which caused what I am going to narrate below, avoiding, of course, giving names since in addition to being inelegant it would serve to open a controversy that is not worth entering.
The truth is that that year commemorating the fifth centenary of the discovery of America by Admiral D. Christopher Columbus, who, by the way, I very much doubt that he was Catalan, as those who want to rewrite history to suit us now want us to believe, we got to work , as every year, in the organization of new FIREPLACES.
We started the steps to close the program; The meetings were held weekly as usual until one day, perhaps in February or March, the then Vice President I of the Commission transmitted the news to us: “We are not allowed to burn the Bonfire in front of the Company, so we have to look for other site”.
We had a hard time believing those words that really made little sense to us. It was a popular festival, deeply rooted and each year caused thousands of people to approach the Plaza de Portugal to see the Bonfire burn, however, that phrase left no room for doubt. I can assure you that at that moment the world came upon us when we valued what it would take to retrace what had been done and move the Bonfire to its original location in 1962.
We immediately activated our contacts in the Municipal Corporation in order to try to solve that serious problem that beset us. We spoke with each other and the answer was always the same: “so and so refuses to give permission for you to plant the Bonfire in front of the School and little can be done against that.”
We tried in vain to persuade the person of reference that all kinds of measures would be taken both to better insulate the ground and to prevent the traffic light network from suffering the least damage. All that was useless, his position was firm and we would have to find another place.
We continued our attempts with other Councilors and two of them pointed out the possibility of transferring the burning of the Bonfire to the Riazor beach. That, from the outset, seemed not only unfeasible but also inappropriate since one thing was to fill the Plaza de Portugal and another very different from the Riazoreño beach. On the other hand, there was another drawback, the coastal legislation did not allow firing on the beaches and consequently we would be denied permission if requested.
In this sense, the Councilors sponsoring the idea of moving the Bonfire to Riazor assured us that this problem would be solved by the City Council itself and that for that matter we could be calm.
We began to get used to the idea that change was imminent with what it entailed in itself, but there was no other remedy; Despite everything, we continue to do all kinds of steps to try to get that decision revoked. It was then that someone told us that the real problem was not the damage to the ground or the traffic light network, that the whole crux of the matter was caused by an express request from the management of the Colegio de la Compañía de María to the reference councilor, whose children studied in the aforementioned school, since the burning of the Bonfire “smoked the facade”.
Knowing this, we were fully convinced that the decision was irrevocable and therefore that we would have to look for life and change the site of the Bonfire.
We did so and with a lot of effort on our part and after obtaining the valuable collaboration of the Pereira family, who owned the Playa Club at the time, we seriously considered where we were going to plant our Bonfire that year of so many ephemeris when due to legal imperative we had to change location to Noite da Queima.
Seen from the prism that the passage of time offers us, that measure was completely successful in helping to enhance the night of San Juan in Coruña since, from that date, in imitation of us, many began to burn bonfires in the sandy areas. from Riazor and Orzán offering the magical igneous show that we attend every night from June 23 to 24.
Regarding the Councilor, on more than one occasion he was heard taking the credit of having been the architect or muñidor of the transfer of the Bonfire to the beach; It was undoubtedly his merit, although what he has never counted and I think he never does is the real reason that led him to make that decision that, by the way, was about to make us abandon the organization of the HOGUERAS strong>.
Eugenio Fernández Barallobre.