As promised, here is the Old Year’s last few hours in La Antigua.
The Festival Calle del Arco in La Antigua, as Prense Libre informs us, was created by a group of Antigueños in 1999, neighbors who were working on a peatonal project to increase street traffic. “Little did they imagine that 10 years after the activity would become the most anticipated celebration of that place, to dismiss the Old Year and receive the new one.” Since 2006 when I attended it last, it seems to have grown by the thousands with increased street vendors, fireworks, and more clubs. There’s also more music and performances as can be seen from the lineup which starts at 7 PM on the night of Dec. 31. While my mother feared for her safety amid the yelling of excited, and tipsy, young Guatemalans elbow to elbow with expats, tourists, Antigueños and random rifraff in for the possibilities, I was very surprised that a party this large did not get out of hand or violent the way something of this size, some 35,000, gets in the U.S. The last time this number of people got together last in the Castro district for Halloween there were a few shot, or stabbed and just general mayhem that made the authorities shut down the decades long celebration. For now, the worst threat is getting hit by a firework shooting off the torito during the “Baile del Torito,” one of the many masked dances that make the Festival del Arco a visual treat for me. While I was filming, the person next to me did in fact get hit by one of the bombas coming off the angry torito circling around in its own sea of fire.