Friday, October 23, 2015

Thornton Festa - Part One

Last weekend, we travelled to a teeny tiny town about 4 hours away called Thornton. 
Every year, the town is invaded by busses filled with  people attending their Our Lady of Fatima Celebration. 
You can read more of Fatima and the Catholic meaning behind Our Lady here. 
There are people who travel many, many miles to attend the out door Masses during this weekend.  We drove up on Saturday to check into our sketchy hotel.
This entire Queen thing has been a learning experience. 
 From the cape to the dresses to figuring out where and when we would travel. 
We had not decided if we would attend this Festa until a couple weeks prior.  
The 5,000+ people at Mass made their reservations earlier...months earlier.
We got the last room in the area, I am convinced. 
Because of this, we didn't take either attendant.  
 I have vowed to be better in the spring when this gears up again.
Anyway, we did watch the bullfights Saturday evening. 
 The bullfights are in an arena and it was packed. 
There are 6 bulls in all and each time a new bull comes out the same "protocol" and ceremony is followed.
The Matador is lavishly dressed and astride a gorgeous horse. 
He is to one side of the arena as the bull runs in making his appearance. 
 The men with the capes "fight" the bull for a minute or so as the matador watches. 

After having watched the way the bull moves, the Matador nods his head and he takes . 
In the old days, the Matador used a lance to stab into the bull's back. 
 Now, there is a rectangle of heavy duty, extra strength Velcro across Mr. Bull's shoulders. 
 The "lances" have Velcro on their end as well. 
There are anywhere from 4- 6 lances that the Matador "stabs" onto the bull. 
After each lance has successfully hit its mark, the band plays and the crowd cheers. 
 There were 3 Matadors, each showing his talent and horsemanship twice. 
The horns of the bulls are covered with leather sleeves making this sport as safe as possible for all those crazy enough to do it.
After all the lances had been firmly attached to their Velcro mate, the crowd cheers as the horse and his rider exit the arena. 
Then the Crazy Matadors appear. 
They deserve a post to themselves soon, but suffice it to say that the loosely translated English term is "Suicide Squad".
Yup...crazy, I tell you.
After those guys "conquer" the beast, the task becomes getting the bull back through the same gate from which he came and back into the trailer to take him home.
Not always easy.
Some needed a bit of female persuasion to follow. 

These two ladies decided they liked being the center of attention in the middle of the ring better.
Once the bull is safely out of the way, another is brought in and it begins again. 
 I didn't leave my coveted seat, but my Hubby and son watched the behind the scenes action. 
There are numerous sherriff deputies set to watch the goings on.
They make sure the bulls are not hurt in anyway. 
 They check the lances to make sure they are safe and cause no harm.
On one hand, it seems like overkill, but in this day and age, by being so careful and open with the authorities, it allows traditions like this to be passed down to new generations.
The amount of practice and time these men and their horses put into their work is remarkable. 
 It all looks so effortless on their part, but to be able to watch and read a bull so well , keeping your horse safe and not falling off takes a special team. 

Just look at the length of this last lance!
How he has the presence of mind and athletic ability to keep control of the horse, lean out and over a charging bull AND hit the mark?
After each bull has left the ring, the Matadors circle the ring, stopping at each section.
People throw flowers...
Some toss a wine filled bota bags. 
 A swig is taken and then tossed back to the kind person who tossed it down in the first place. 
 People also tossed their hats down.
The men would pick it up and toss it back. 
 Not sure what the significance of that part was.
Anyway, after the bullfights, there was an outdoor Mass held following by a candlelight procession.  We chose to not stay for either of those but here are some photos.
We headed back to Lodi and had a wonderful dinner at Pietro's
before hitting the sack. 
All in all, a good day.

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