“The girls of the gang did not like that we were going to steal wood for the Night of San Juan, so we devised a way to include them, creating in 1970 the figure of the Meiga Mayor and the Promoting Commission of the Bonfires of San Juan”. With these words, in the restaurant Os Arcados-Playa Club, the president of the Hogueras de San Juan presented the general program of events of the Hogueras 85, the annual program magazine and the Meiga Mayor and its Meigas de Honor 1985. In addition to emphasizing the playful and popular nature of the Bonfires festivities, Eugenio Fernández Barallobre highlighted the social, cultural and sporting events, announcing that the Music and Dance Theater Days of that year would be attended by the Lyric company “Miguel de Alonso” that would stage the well-known zarzuelas “Doña Francisquita” and “Los Gavilanes” at the Colón Theater.
The main obstacles that the Commission had in organizing the San Juan festivities were the economic problem and the lack of managers. And although the City Council helped, the subsidy promised by the mayor of the city had not yet been crystallized, something that led several Meigas to request an interview with the first councilor of the city in order to solve this problem, which was summarized in six hundred thousand pesetas of deficit, accumulated during the year 1984 when the City Council did not make the requested subsidy effective. Fortunately, in the middle of June and by emergency procedure, the consistory approved a subsidy of one million six hundred thousand pesetas for the organization of the Bonfires of San Juan. Once the cocktail in honor of the Meigas ended, the president offered a dinner to the social media that was served at the Os Arcados restaurant itself.
Another edition of Sports Week, which lasted from May 25 to June 9, brought together more than four hundred participating athletes in the Riazor Municipal Sports courts, who were framed in twenty-one teams in the modalities of basketball, handball and women’s volleyball. , as well as male juvenile roller hockey in whose modality the Colegio Santa María del Mar was the winner followed by the Escola Lubians. In women’s basketball, it was Marista who won the champion title, relegating the Eusebio Da Guarda Women’s Institute to the runner-up. The Rafael Puga Ramón school brilliantly took the title in handball, placing second place the Social Institute for Women.
While in volleyball El Liceo la Paz was proclaimed champion followed by Maristas. The trophy “Provincial Delegation of Sports of the Xunta de Galicia for the best player” went to Rocío Goyache from the Eusebio da Guarda Basketball Institute. The San Juan Trophy for points, the highest award of the Sports week, went to Rafael Puga Ramón for handball. The closing and awarding of the trophies was, for yet another year, very colorful and was followed by a large number of fans who filled the Riazor sports court with their presence.
For the third consecutive year, the III Witches and Witches Party was held at the Fox-Trot nightclub, with prizes distributed by the Meigas, followed by a lively dance.
The mayor of La Coruña, Francisco Vázquez, received the Meigas del San Juan 85 as well as the board of directors of the Promoting Commission. In a relaxed atmosphere, where the first regidor had time to praise the beauty of the Meiga Mayor and his Meigas de Honor. The first mayor highlighted the roots that the celebration of San Juan had not only in La Coruña but also in Galicia and Spain, encouraging the board of directors to continue preserving traditions.
During the reception that ended with the usual photographs and a wine of honor, where the Meigas, the Hogueras and La Coruña were toasted, the mayor invited the Meiga Mayor and her Meigas de Honor to visit the House Planetarium of the Sciences that had been inaugurated recently by the Kings of Spain, on the occasion of the Armed Forces Day celebrated in our city.
The next day the Meigas gladly made the visit. Likewise, the Meiga Mayor and her Meigas also remembered the elders, visiting the residences of the Old City, Padre Rubinos and Hermanitas de los Desamparados, and the little ones visiting the Hogar Emilio Romay Casa-Cuna, where they left gifts , toys and joy.
The qualifying jury of the poetic contest of the Fiesta del Coven, chaired by the lawyer Emilio Quesada Zato, announced the decision of the poetic contest organized by the Bonfires Commission. Granting Silver Thistle in Castilian language, endowed with 40,000 pesetas, to the poem “Sketch for a painting of the Night of San Juan in La Coruña”. Likewise, it unanimously agreed to declare the prize for poetry in Galician void.
The Music and Dance Theater sessions were framed, among others, in the assembly hall of the Provincial Delegation of Culture of the Xunta de Galicia, where the Theater cycle was developed with the staging of the works “A cuadratura do Círculo “By the theater group” Latexo “and” Do you live here ?, staged by the theater group “Xiria. Another of the settings chosen for the Theater, Music and Dance sessions was the Real and Insigne Colegiata de Santa María del Campo, where the singing recitals by the Choir of the Sada Society, baritone Juan Villacastín, took place and the tenor Miguel de Alonso. Precisely the Burgos tenor Miguel de Alonso presented his zarzuela company at the Teatro Colón, which staged the well-known works “Doña Francisquita” by Amadeo Vives and “Los Gavilanes” by Jacinto Guerrero.
The Plaza del Maestro Mateo was the other point chosen for the outdoor events and the Xiada dance group performed there, staging a tribute to Rosalía de Castro and the Visantoña Music Band. The Rotonda de Riazor, hosted a concert by the Municipal Music Band that performed works by Del Río, Oudrid, Wagner, Guridi and Jiménez. Other squares such as Pontevedra, Recife and the Riazor Rotunda itself, already on the morning of the 23rd, the eve of San Juan, were chosen for the concerts and performances of the Luaña Music Bands, the Xiada dance group and the Agrupación Musical Caamano.
That morning of the 23rd, many streets of the city, especially the Fernando Macías area, were delighted with the parades and pasodobles of the different music bands, a group of pipers and a group of big heads.
In the area of the Plaza de Portugal, where the fair of attractions was installed, in which, within the program of celebrations, a very lively children’s party was held, where many children who participated in different games, were presented with gifts and candies .
At the fairgrounds, an imposing roller coaster was striking, which was the first of those characteristics to be installed in our city and which during the days that it was among us, was the center of fun for hundreds and hundreds of children and not so children, who wanted to feel the thrill of danger coming down and up the steep slopes and winding curves.
At one o’clock in the afternoon from the Plaza de Recife the procession led by the Meiga Mayor 85, Conchita Astray, began to march, accompanied by her Meigas, all of them wearing the classic Spanish Mantilla and escorted by soldiers dressed in period uniforms. , a troupe of big heads, music bands, bagpipers and a folkloric group, came to the Church of San Francisco de Asís (Franciscan Fathers) to prostrate one more year at the feet of San Juan Bautista, where the Holy Mass ofrenda took place.
In it, the president of the Bonfires read a heartfelt invocation to the Saint who was later showered with flowers by the Meiga Mayor and Meigas de Honor.
In the afternoon and for the second year in a row, from the Plaza de María Pita, the first part of the parade started, where the already traditional cars of the country participated, as well as a group of big heads, bagpipers, folkloric groups and the honor guard of the Meigas in uniforms. of the 17th century Spanish Army, the bands of music that were joined by the cornet and drum bands of the OJE of La Coruña and Juventud Coruñesa as well as the Band of bagpipes and drums of the Explorers of El Ferrol.
The parade of San Juan went through the main streets of the city before the eyes of hundreds of people from A Coruña who saw its slow flow towards the Os Arcados-Playa Club restaurant, where the XV Poetic Coven Party and the acts of proclamation of the XVI meiga Mayor Conchita Astray Gómez and her Meigas de Honor.
Another Saint John’s Eve and there were already eight of them, the restaurant Os Arcados-Playa Club, dressed its best clothes for the celebration of the XV Poetic Coven party. Flowers everywhere, lights, flags of Spain and Galicia, pastry chefs with the city’s coat of arms and an atmosphere of expectation and nervousness.
That night the 16th Meiga Mayor of the Bonfires of San Juan was to be proclaimed, Conchita Astray Gómez, a young woman from the Old City who studied classical Spanish ballet, in love with the songs of Elvis Presley and who, since she was little, according to her own In words, “she had always been attracted to fire, perhaps because of its ambiguity …, because it purifies and destroys, but … it is beautiful” . For her, being Elder Meiga was a great honor because you could only be Elder Meiga once in your life.
The new Meiga Mayor, very beautiful and radiant, wearing a beautiful black dress, strapless neckline with a floral ornament on the left shoulder, entered the room to the chords of the Coronation March on the arm of the president of the Bonfires of San Juan José Eugenio Fernández Barallobre, followed by the Meiga Mayor of 1984, Mabel Rodiño, and the Meigas de Honor 85 Loreto Losada Vales, Sandra Rey Mena, Iratxe Mendizábal Mantrana, Alicia Hervella Cortés, Paloma Sobrino Butragueño, Sara Carreira Piñeiro, Coté Vázquez González, Dolores Carreira Piñeiro, Marta Reboredo López, Lara Vázquez Bueno, Marta Méndez, Elisa Gómez Sánchez-Albornoz. Montserrat Blanco and Begoña Ares, who were supported by the party’s maintainer José Redondo and directors of the Promoting Commission.
The anecdote of that magical Night, as if wanting to signify the long commitment that the new Meiga Mayor was going to contract with the Promoting Commission of the Bonfires of San Juan, becoming a fundamental figure in the history and future of the Bonfires of San Juan de la Coruña, currently president of the Association of Meigas de la Hogueras de San Juan de La Coruña, emerged at the moment when the accidental mayor, councilor of the socialist group, Héctor Quiroga and the Meiga Mayor of 1984, Mabel Rodiño, imposed the Meiga Mayor accrediting band to Conchita Astray. Someone, without realizing it, changed the accrediting band, already embroidered, for a piece of cloth with the colors of the National flag that had left over from the embroidery of said band.
The moment was humorous. Before the astonished gaze of the Meiga Mayor of 1984, the accidental mayor and the Meiga Mayor herself, who was to be proclaimed, meters and meters of ribbon with the colors of the Spanish flag began to appear. It was undoubtedly, as the years have shown, a long and durable band. After the sympathetic moment, now yes, the Meiga Mayor 1984, Mabel Rodiño, and the accidental mayor Héctor Quiroga placed the band that accredited her from the left shoulder to the waist of the new Meiga Mayor, to the applause of the guests who filled with his presence the lounge of the restaurant Os Arcados. In the same way, the Meiga de Honor that they received, as well as the Meiga Mayor, flowers and gifts were invested.
Once the Meiga Mayor and its Meigas de Honor had been proclaimed, the work awarded the Silver Thistle for poetry in Castilian was read, since the qualifying jury for the literary contest had decided to leave the Galician poetry prize void.
The poet José Jorquera Manzanera read his composition entitled “Sketch for a painting of the Night of San Juan in La Coruña”, for which, once finished, the Meiga Mayor gave him the silver statuette that resembles the thistle flower of San Juan and the cash prize which amounted to 40,000 pesetas.
Similarly, the Meiga Mayor gave several souvenirs to collaborators and the San Juan trophy for points to a representation of the Rafael Puga Ramón handball team, a brilliant winner of the fourteenth Sports Week.
The finishing touch to such an elegant, joyful and transcendental evening was put by the remembered theater director and writer Pepín Redondo, who spread to the four winds “the happy idea of the Bonfires Commission to celebrate a generous and suggestive broad program that goes from sport to the lyrical recital, from the poetic coven to the traditional parade, a program that generates tongues of fire that -as a sacred spirit- places on our heads to show us that the popular is not at odds with the cultural, that deep knowledge and the delight of our senses, enliven our intelligences and sensibilities, in a world that is too pragmatic and passively cruel ”, ending his proclamation, singing a song to the Night of San Juan, which he defined as“ Noite de meigas y de coven, noite of tradition and beauty. intoxicating, with the watchful smoke of intimacies and the secrets of bruxas that “cut or lume” of loves open to the warm month of June. It is the passion that surrounds us, the consuming blaze of old age before the new world, a new world open to renewal and uncertainty, but under the everlasting watch of our historical illumination -the lighthouse of Hercules- irradiating and mute witness, of our better traditions and freedoms ”.
Before the applause of the public present, the Meiga Mayor gave a souvenir of the party to the town crier and then, with the Meigas leaving the stage, a gala dinner began.
At eleven thirty at night the Meigas left the restaurant to start the second part of the San Juan parade that went through various streets in the center of La Coruña, ending its journey in the crowded squares of Calvo Sotelo and Portugal, where it was installed the allegorical bonfire San Juan 85, in this case a nice replica of the new music box inaugurated in the gardens of Relleno a few dates ago by the mayor Francisco Vázquez. The work carried out by a veteran carpenter, Manuel Lareo, who took the task so seriously, building a box so secure that even on top of it a band could interpret the occasional pasodoble.
La Hoguera was completed with the figures of Mayor Vázquez, such as conductor, Pepe González Dopeso, leader of Alianza Popular playing the cornet and Joaquín López Menéndez leader of La Coruña Unida, playing a saxophone, wanting to represent that La Coruña was like an orchestra who performed a good piece in favor and defense of the interests of the city itself, despite the fact that at the base of the box you could see animals covering their ears, before which they considered a complete out of tune. The humorous figures and vignettes were carried out by Joaquín Florián Castiñeira and Antonio Osende.
Once dismounted from the typical cars of the country, the Meiga Mayor and her Meigas de Honor climbed the majestic steps of the Colegio de la Compañía de María to give the order to the pyrotechnic Rocha to start the burning of an artistic and spectacular session of fireworks that filled the starry sky in Coruña with light, color and sound.
Once the fireworks session was over, the Meiga Mayor, Conchita Astray, proceeded to light the wick that would light the allegorical bonfire that took a few minutes to burn out. Already when only embers remained, the Marineda orchestra began the second part of its performance in a festival that was followed by crowds of people who danced well into the morning.
Las Meigas returned to the Os Arcados restaurant where the gala dance on the night of San Juan began.
Well into the morning and once the dance on the night of San Juan had concluded, the Meiga Mayor asked some directors of the commission and several of her Meigas to accompany her to the ashes of that bonfire that a few hours before had served so that be perpetuated in space and time the history of his meigado. And again the embers jumped as never wanting to get rid of that fire that would bind her indelibly, until she became a fundamental figure in the history and future of the Bonfires of San Juan de la Coruña.
Carlos Fernández Barallobre.