Mandrew & Chelsea
Step One: Prepare
- Fireworks. A ridiculous amount of fireworks. Big ones, small ones, loud ones, bright ones – buy them all. Buy out the entire store.
- At least two litres of accelerant, gasoline will do the job. If you don’t have an approved gas container, have no fear – a plastic soft drink bottle is perfect.
- A paper mache model of your favourite character. Bonus points if you make your own. Extra bonus points if it’s really huge or ridiculous.
- A reliable lighter … I think you know where this is going.
Step Two: Eat, Drink, and be Merry
Alright, you’ve got everything ready nice and early, why not get out and enjoy the afternoon before the serious stuff starts? Remember to bring along some dinero so you can buy treats from the many street vendors. Popular choices are beer or sangria, and if you’re thinking, “but it’s too early to start drinking!” then I recommend you keep your thoughts to yourself.
If you want to make it to midnight without a half-time nap, however (one of us may have failed in this respect) remember to have a bite to eat. Popular choices here are candied apples, corn on the cob, patacones (fried plantains with cheese), ceviche (seasoned raw fish marinated in lemon juice), a variety of street meats and, if you’re in the mountainous region of Ecuador, guinea pig on a stick.
Step Three: Size up the competition
It’s a bit tough to tell as an outsider, but it seems to me a big part of the New Year’s celebration is outdoing your neighbours. While you’re out and about, observe others’ paper mache figures and hope that yours are better (it’s not too late to pick up a couple more if need be). For those who have gone and built something to be proud of, find a good public place to put it on display. This is also a good opportunity to make yourself heard and send out a message – something like a political cartoon seems to get the most attention here, especially if it’s shocking or grotesque.
If you’re taking part in the unofficial neighborhood fireworks competition, start heading home after dark. It’s customary to start things off with a bunch of teasers: starting around 8pm, light off a few random fireworks every 15 to 20 minutes. This is kind of like revving your engine before a street race, just to show everyone you mean business. Don’t go too crazy here, the real thing starts at midnight.
Step Four: Light ‘em up!
The big moment’s almost here! With a couple minutes to spare, move the party out onto the street (you wouldn’t want to make a mess of your own property or anything). Place your paper mache creation in the middle of the road for all to see, and at the stroke of midnight, soak it in gasoline and light it up! Once the initial *woof* is over, take advantage of the flames and throw in handfuls of “banger” style fireworks. While dodging the shrapnel, throw in handfuls more.