Lunar New Year celebrations may be over for us, but not in Taiwan.
An annual fireworks festival in the Yanshuei district was initially fueled by the plague.
More than a hundred years ago, villagers prayed to the god, Guan Gong, to rid their village of disease.
“He ordered everybody to prepare rockets and fireworks, trying to scare all the ghosts leaving right here,” explained resident Mike Ling.
It worked, so ever since, the townspeople have honored the deities by giving them a little tour through the neighborhoods and setting skies on fire.
At this festival, getting nailed by a rocket is good luck. The Yanshuei fire department suits up for maximum protection against a trolley of fireworks ammo.
Thirty-thousand rockets are positioned horizontally to fire into the crowd, and on this night, there was not one fire.
“We know how to prepare, and you will notice, we do not have wood roofs. We build with tin roofs,” said a firefighter.
Who pays for this madness? The community donates money for the pyrotechnics. This neighborhood alone contributed $3 million, and all of Yanshei: $300 million.
After nine hours of continuous fireworks, the streets are strewn with red paper.
The revelers, covered with sweat, soot, and ash, are content to be plague-free for at least another year.