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Spain's messy tradition: the Tomatina food fight

Over 20,000 people were drenched in red pulp after hurling tons of tomatoes at each other at the annual Tomatina festival in eastern Spain. Extra security was deployed after the recent terrorist attacks in Catalonia.

Some 160 tons of ripe tomatoes were made available to a crowd of 22,000 people - about two-thirds of them tourists - for the annual tomato throwing festival known as the Tomatina, which took place in the Spanish city of Bunol on Wednesday morning.

Participants, many wearing just bathing suits and goggles, spent an hour throwing tomatoes at each other. The city hosed the streets down right after the event's end at noon, while public showers were available for the food fighters.

Following the vehicle attacks in and near Barcelona this month, extra security measures were taken this year; 740 agents were on duty in Bunol.

Read more: Why Barcelona is a tourist magnet

'World's biggest food fight'

Billed by the Guinness Book of World Records  as "the world's biggest food fight," the iconic fiesta celebrated its 72nd anniversary this year.

The tradition started in 1945 when youths grabbed tomatoes from a greengrocer's stall and let loose during a local festival.

Dictator Francisco Franco tried to ban the food fight for more than a decade, but it was finally made legal in 1957.

In 2002, Spain's tourism secretary declared the popular Tomatina a "festivity of international tourist interest."

Bunol, a town of about 10,000 people, started charging non-residents a participation fee in 2013 and capping attendance at 22,000 after crowds grew to over 50,000 people.

The festival has since inspired similar celebrations in Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile and the United States.

eg/kbm (dpa, AFP, AP)

 

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