Spain’s La Tomatina festival sends defiant message to terrorists

World Today

Revelers enjoy as they throw tomatoes at each other, during the annual “Tomatina”, tomato fight fiesta, in the village of Bunol, 50 kilometers outside Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. At the annual “Tomatina” battle, that has become a major tourist attraction, trucks dumped 160 tons of tomatoes for some 20,000 participants, many from abroad, to throw during the hour-long Wednesday morning festivities. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

The eastern Spanish town of Bunol hosted its annual La Tomatina festival, the world’s biggest food fight, on Wednesday.

In all, around 180,000 tomatoes are thrown during the chaotic hour-long event.

Organizers said they hope it sends a message of defiance to terrorists, following the recent attacks in Catalonia.

CGTN’s Dan Williams has the story.

Follow Dan Williams on Twitter @Danielclearcut

The town of Bunol in Eastern Spain has a population of just 9,000 people.

But every year on the last Wednesday of August, tens of thousands descend here from all corners of the globe.

The La Tomatina festival dates back to 1945 and came about following an altercation at a carnival that led to a tomato fight.

Since those humble beginnings, the event has grown. And it is now considered to be the world’s biggest food fight.

“We’ve seen it on TV. We’ve seen it on the internet,” says one participant. “We thought it would be a great experience. Something to tick off the bucket list so we are buzzing for it. Should be good.”

“I have no idea man. It should be chaos. I think it will be pretty rosy. Heaps of people here so pretty excited,” says another.

Just before 11 am, the trucks arrive in the main square, goggles are adjusted, and the fun truly begins.

The throwing lasts for an hour. It’s estimated some 180,000 tomatoes are used in the process.

As a rule, participants must squash the tomatoes before throwing them to prevent injuries.

For some, it becomes too much. But most thoroughly enjoy the experience.

As one participant put it, “It is crazy and it is fun and it is dangerous as well. But hey, it is one time in this life. Why not?”

“It is crazy,” says another. “I couldn’t believe it. There was this much tomato in the street. Everyone is fighting and having fun.”

This year, the festival has extra significance, taking place just a couple of weeks after the terrorist attacks in Catalonia.

A heavy police presence is noticeable, but the message is clear.

“Terrorism tries to plant fear in everybody,” says Juncal Carrascosa, the mayor of Bunol. “And if the reaction of the people on the streets is to be frightened, they have achieved their objectives.

“People have to keep enjoying themselves.”