The Chupinazo, the Fiesta’s explosive opening ceremony, takes place on July 6th. As the hour of high-noon closes in, young people by the thousands cram into the 50-by-50-yard Town Hall Plaza. Champagne and sangria burst into a sparkling mist above, and likely get knocked into your face by a clumsy band of young knuckledraggers. If you are slimly built, do not enter the Chupinazo alone. I’m a 200-lb. athletic guy, and with the squeeze its nearly impossible for me to breath. Every year, dozens of individuals pass-out and the crowd passes them overhead to Red Cross medics at the edge of the Plaza. During the final 15 minutes, a steady stream of these limp-bodies float past. Find a big group of large bulky types and make friends quick. Stand in the middle of them, then go with the flow when the sea of bodies start to rock and sway. Hang until the blessing by the Mayor of Pamplona, during which you should raise your Panuelo (red-handkerchief). The stick-rocket then assails into the bright sky and explodes and pandemonium erupts. Now it's time to tie on your Panuelo.
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