They kept that quiet. Probably because they didn’t want loads of people flooding in. Last Saturday, to coincide with the Fifth Symposium of Fire Festivals in the Mediterranean, there was a fire parade. Sa Pobla, “land of culture, demons and fire”, to quote the town hall, welcomed fire-breathing beasties and fire-wielding demons as well as various senior figures from the Council of Majorca, e.g. its president, Catalina Cladera (who is from Sa Pobla), and the councillor for culture, Bel Busquets, who isn’t.
Keeping things quiet, or at least keeping things to oneself, has been a suggestion for January’s Sant Antoni fiestas. The land of culture, demons and fire - Sa Pobla - has decided to dispense with one element of the fire, the pyromusical. This is the event which, above all, draws people into the Plaça Major on Sant Antoni Eve. Covid concerns still being as they are, the town hall feels that it is better to play safe and not have the square packed out for the fireworks accompanied by music.
The suggestion has therefore been made that the event could still be held, if access to Sa Pobla were blocked and only Sa Pobla residents were able to get in. This would be like going back to the days of the Covid cordons - there was one a year ago for Manacor. They weren’t popular then, and they wouldn’t be popular now. A Sa Pobla Sant Antoni cordon is not a serious proposal. There will be no pyromusical.
The fiestas in Sa Pobla will therefore, and so it has been said, return to their roots. By which is meant that it will more or less be the fiestas as we’ve come to know them minus the pyromusical, which is clearly of more recent origin than most elements of the fiestas - dancing demons, bonfires in the square, ximbomba-playing and so on.
In the past, by which one means pre-Covid, there was access control. Not to the whole of Sa Pobla but to the Plaça Major. The control was on safety grounds, so a maximum capacity was established. But this sort of control isn’t easy, and town halls know it isn’t. Decisions have yet to be made definitively in other places where Sant Antoni is particularly popular, such as Muro and Pollensa. And they will be made according to the ability to limit and control crowds.
In Pollensa, Mayor Tomeu Cifre hopes that the pine of Sant Antoni - the climb of the pine on the day of the saint - will be the “main dish” for the fiestas. But at present it seems inconceivable that the crowds and the crush in Plaça Vella for the pine climb will be permitted.
Muro attracts good numbers of people for the demons’ “correfoc”, but there is never a crush as such. Even so, there are bound to be concerns about that, while the town hall and local police will be only too well aware of how things can get totally out of hand, as with the massive and illegal “botellón” a few weeks back. The blessing of the animals also draws large numbers. It is one of the most popular of all the blessings because Muro makes a show of it in a way that other places do not.
There’ll be some tough calls to make. Sant Antoni means a heck of a lot to Sa Pobla, Muro and Pollensa, and they will want to keep as much intact as possible, given that so little could take place in January this year.