MALTA DIARY: You can take the Maltese out of fireworks – but you can’t take fireworks out of the Maltese!
Gloom and low morale offset by colour and spectacle
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August was planned as a bonanza month when in early July the pandemic seemed to be under control and receding. Mass events were planned, external festa activities were on course to resume and in general, the enjoyment of the height of summer.
It all went askew when it became increasingly clear the islands were suffering from the pandemic spike that has swept throughout the world in August. All mass events were cancelled and new restrictions imposed on travel, social distancing and everything else under the sun.
Three major events were planned for August; a Fireworks Spectacular around various areas of the Islands; the celebration of the feast of The Assumption celebrated in seven parishes around Malta and Gozo on 15th August, and the Valletta Pageant of the Seas 2020 in Valletta’s Grand Harbour.
All took place in a vastly reduced form, the main emphasis being that crowds were strictly ordered to keep away (these are normally attended by thousands and thousands) and watch proceedings on a virtual online basis, mainly on tv.
Fireworks displays are annually part and parcel of summer. Groups have their factories around the Islands and work relentlessly in competition to produce the best and to better others. Preparations start early in the year but received a tremendous blow when restrictions were placed on mass events in March/April by which time many of the preparations had been completed.
All those involved in manufacture, mounting and firing are purely amateurs and more often than not dig personally into their own pockets to foot the expenses. Their sole aim is the pride in their work.
Matters seemed to be looking up but a further blow came and wholesale cancellations were once more imposed on mass events. It is highly dangerous to store fireworks from year to year and so the firing took place, on a subdued basis and mainly viewed virtually online, both for the Fireworks Spectacular and the celebration of The Assumption.
The Valletta Pageant of the Seas sponsored by the Valletta Cultural Agency took place in Valletta’s Grand Harbour on 18th August with spectators strictly ordered to keep away and view the events in a virtual online manner.
Among the major events was the usual “Tellieqa Telliqin” (the Mother of all Races) in which members of the community have to come together to build nine vessels using only recycled material. There was also “The Return of the Runaway Ferris Wheel”. Another normal main feature is The Regatta in which nine rowing clubs participate. This year however, it took a new turn in that ONLY female rowers could participate. The team from Vittoriosa emerged triumphant with Glynnis Mizzi, Rachelle Gialanze and Cayenne Mizzi winning €2,000 for their club.
The event culminated in the spectacle entitled “Il-Mappa” (The Map) with the participation of 34 yachts and 20 rowing boats, reflected in huge mirrors placed around the Harbour.
So yes, the general atmosphere is one of deep gloom and low morale, but some valiant people have helped to alleviate some of this with their superb efforts and all viewed from the comparative safety of one’s home.
God bless them all.
“I am down on my eyes”
An expression to denote intense physical and mental fatigue, tiredness and feeling totally clapped out.