July 7, 1997 in Nation/World

Pamplona Festival Opens With Champagne

Compiled From Wire Services

Thousands of champagne-swilling revelers cheered Sunday when a rocket signaled the start of Pamplona’s San Fermin festival, famous for its daily running of the bulls.

Mayor Javier Chorraut lit the small rocket from the balcony of town hall and announced the nine-day festival’s opening in Spanish and Basque: “Pamploneses, Viva San Fermin! Gora San Fermin!”

The crowd, mainly young people dressed in San Fermin’s traditional garb of white shirt with red kerchief and white trousers belted by a red sash, erupted in applause and began showering one another with sparkling wine.

The partying usually continues through to this morning and the first of the bull runs, in which hundreds of festivalgoers dodge six black bulls as they run down narrow cobblestone streets to the bullring. Matadors fight the bulls later in the day.

At least 13 people have been killed in the runs.

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