In the United States and Canada we love our fireworks like anyone else, but one city in Mexico makes us all look like amateurs.
Tultepec is the center of the fireworks industry in Mexico, and every year the city hosts Mexico’s National Pyrotechnic Festival. The festival began in 1989, after a fireworks accident in 1988 led to the banning of the production of fireworks within city limits. From its first year, the festival has been a rousing success, with the highlight being the pamplonada—hundreds of bulls are made from wood and paper maché, filled with fireworks and then set alight after being paraded through the town.
Did you know?
- Between 50-80% of the fireworks in Mexico are made in the region of Tultepec—a town near Mexico City.
- Fireworks crafting is a family tradition going back generations, with many people making fireworks in their own homes.
- The Patron saint of the town, San Juan de Dios, is also the patron saint of fireworks and firefighters.
- Tultepec isn’t known only for its fireworks making; they helped invent the sparkler, made star and rocket design advancements along with new colors and color enhancements.
- The National Pyrotechnic Festival brings up to 100,000 people to Tultepec to witness the gunpowder artistry.
- Unfortunately, fireworks bring tragedy along with magic to the town. In December 2016, a chain of explosions in the open-air fireworks market killed 42 people and injured dozens more.
- In response, safety regulations were improved, but this was the third fireworks accident in the town in 12 years.
- In March of this year, the dead and injured were commemorated with a fireworks display.
- Over the past 20 years, over 100 people have died in Tultepec as a result of firework production and sales, with the town’s open-air market having been destroyed twice.
- Speaking with the AP in 2016, Tultepec’s mayor said, “We know it is high-risk, we regret this greatly, but unfortunately many people’s livelihoods depend on this activity.”
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