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Inti Raymi Fireworks Celebration - Urabamba, Peru

Inti Raymi Fireworks in the village of Urubamba, Peru.Copyright Jerome Shaw 1984 / wwwJeromeShaw.com
Celebrating the winter solstice during the Incan festival of Inti Raymi in the village of Urubamba, Peru.
Photograph by Jerome Shaw
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Fireworks Urabamba, Peru


This was one of the wildest scenes I have ever encountered in all my travels. I was in this small village along the Urabamba River in Peru and as part of the Inti Raymi celebration (Winter Solstice/Return of the Sun) the town had a fireworks display. There was a log tower built in the center of the square,  Attached to the tower were all types of fireworks.

The crowd gathered as dusk fell. I found my position on a rock wall, well back from the display but high enough to get a good view. I had hired a minder to keep an eye on things for me while I concentrated on setting up the photo. He was none to happy to have me up on the wall with several other locals as he was certain my equipment would begin to disappear into the crowd and there would be very little we could do about it.

Though, the real danger was to come from another source. Prior to the lighting of the tower of fireworks you see in these photos there were numerous smaller displays. One of the highlights was men dressed in papier mache horse heads and fore flanks that danced around in the square. The hooves of the horses fired roman candle shells out at random intervals as they ran and pranced in the center of the square.
Inti Raymi Fireworks in the village of Urubamba, Peru.Copyright Jerome Shaw 1984 / wwwJeromeShaw.com
What a wild scene it was in the village of Urubamba, Peru. We were celebrating the winter solstice during the Incan festival of Inti Raymi. You'd never get insurance for a fireworks display like this in the United States.   Photograph by Jerome Shaw
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As I photographed,  the horse men continues to strut around the square. Then a shell fired out in my general direction. The fiery missile hit a man in the chest several yards down the wall from me, knocking him off the wall down to the ground. His friends jumped down patted out the fire on his chest, dusted him off and hoisted him back up on the wall, all the while laughing. His friends joked and gave him many congratulatory pats on the back. He had become a celebrity and even though his shirt still smoldered from the roman candle strike that knocked him from his perch, he seemed to be enjoying his new found celebrity.

All the while I watch I was thinking you'll never see this kind of fireworks display in the United States. You'd never get insured.

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