Monday, September 27

The palms that the covid darkened

Elche artisans placing part of their work that remained unsold.

Elche artisans placing part of their work that remained unsold.

The largest in the world. Elche exhibits on the Paseo de la Estación a 130-meter-long palm tree made up of bouquets that were left unsold throughout Spain due to the cancellation of Holy Week.

“On March 15, with the state of alarm, they canceled our orders, 60,000 palms prepared to send to all of Spain after a year of work that remained in the warehouses and many of them are the ones that are here now,” says José Pascual Soto, craftsman of the white palm. Like him, the six families of Elche producers who have gone through the same situation have rescued part of those creations that did not see the light of the coronavirus to configure the largest white palm in the world.

A total of 130 meters long with 10,000 plain and braided bouquets are part of an exhibition that will be visible all weekend in the Paseo de la Estación. An initiative, organized by VisitElche and the Provincial Tourist Board of the Costa Blanca, which will serve to make visible the artisan work of one of the worst-unemployed sectors due to the pandemic after the cancellation of Palm Sunday, a festival of International Tourist Interest .

The palms have been spread on the floor of the Paseo de la Estación in Elche since yesterday. MATIAS SEGARRA

Concern for 2021

The producers fear that all those palms and bouquets that they elaborated meticulously by hand throughout 2019 and could not be sold this year can no longer be saved in the next Holy Week, and even more so after they have already canceled the processions of Seville. “We’re going behind,” they predict.

That is why the City Council has also sought to pay a well-deserved tribute to the work of some families that make one of the most beloved signs of identity in Elche a reality. “Every stone makes a wall and for bringing our palms here we have received 95,000 euros from the Provincial Council that helps us to throw something away after having lost a year’s job,” says José Joaquín Esclapez, a palm producer.

However, this aid will serve, at best, to “cover holes and be able to start from scratch”, as recognized by workers in a sector that estimates the losses suffered this Easter at more than one million euros. “With the money that they are going to give us now, it is to start production in 2022 and try to start from scratch because given the uncertainty for next year we do not know if we can take risks,” laments Soto.

In fact, artisans like him have had to invest in special cold rooms to try to keep the palms that they continue to keep in their warehouses, because they don’t all fit on the Paseo de la Estación. What they do not know is if they will hold, nor if there will be Easter in 2021. Everything is an uncertainty.

Be that as it may, what producers are asking these days is solidarity with this guild which, despite being small, has managed to keep alive a tradition that dates back to the 16th century and which bears the name of Elche all over the world every Sunday in Ramos.

A drone to watch

To control safety distances and monitor crowds, the Local Police are using their drone, in addition to serving to take aerial images that will serve to enhance the tourist promotion of the city. In fact VisitElche will take advantage of it to carry out a campaign throughout the Community and also in the regions of Madrid, Catalonia, Murcia, Andalusia and Palma de Mallorca. The president of the Provincial Council, Carlos Mazón, also joined this initiative with a visit.

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