Last month while at the TOHU to watch the trapeze artists, I noticed that there were displays in two big tops. At the entrance of the first tent, I saw the sketch (left) of what would be the structures measuring 10 metres upon completion. The theme this year was the 10 works of Alice in Wonderland for the occasion of the TOHU's 6th annual Falla (pronounced Faya).
La Falla originated in Valencia, Spain, in the 15th century to celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters and cabinet makers. As part of the celebration, the people of Valencia burned their wood reserves. At the end of the 19th century, groups in the city fashioned their wood piles into caricatures of their rivals before burning them to the ground.
In the Spanish tradition, the TOHU has created its own Falla with the help of 14 falleros and over 100 volunteers from the St-Michel area. For three months, under the supervision of artistic designers, the falleros, aged 17 to 30, learn skills in woodworking and sculpture to create brightly coloured characters and festive structures.
I walked around both tents to see all the various work in progress that would eventually become the characters of Alice in Wonderland. I spoke with one of the enthusiastic designers who showed me the scaled blue print of the final product.
On August 29, my family and I attended the celebration on the TOHU grounds. The 10-metre sculptures were burnt to the ground amid hundreds of cheering fans and fireworks. All that remained were the transferable skills that the participants learned. Finally there is a positive project to celebrate the youth of St. Michel.
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