Extra police and firefighters for Sant Joan festival
Catalan interior department to deploy 3,197 officers and 172 extra firefighters for annual midsummer celebration
This weekend sees one of Catalonia’s most popular annual festivals, the Nit de Sant Joan, or Saint John’s Eve when bonfires and fireworks take center stage in celebrating the midsummer solstice. In response, the Catalan interior department will deploy 3,197 Mossos d’Esquadra police officers from Friday afternoon, when it is estimated that over half a million vehicles will leave the Barcelona area as people go away for the weekend.
The estimate of 515,000 vehicles is a 14% increase on the number for 2017. The worst congestion on Friday evening is expected on the AP-7 motorway between Sant Cugat and Barberà, and around Maçanet de la Selva, as well as on the C-32 main road, north towards Mataró. Police will set up additional lanes on these stretches of motorway. Meanwhile, on Saint John’s Eve itself, on June 23, police plan to set up 68 alcohol and drug checkpoints.
“There can never be enough precautions on Sant Joan"
Miquel Buch · Catalan minister of home affairs
Given that the festival revolves around bonfires and fireworks, Catalonia’s firefighters will also be on high alert, with an extra 172 firefighters on duty compared with an average weekend. These figures were announced on Thursday by the Catalan minister of home affairs, Miquel Buch, on a visit to the main HQ of Catalonia’s fire service in Cerdanyola del Vallès, near Barcelona. “There can never be enough precautions on Sant Joan," Buch said.
Average household to spend €40 on fireworks
Meanwhile, Saint John’s Eve is the most important day of the year for Catalonia’s firework sector, which reports that sales look to equal those of last year. The association representing Catalonia’s firework makers and retailers estimates that the public will again spend around 18 million euros on fireworks. Some shops even report an improvement in sales compared to last year, with the average household expected to spend around 40 euros on fireworks.
“We are very excited about this year’s Sant Joan, sales are good,” said the owner of Patam.com, a company in Riudellots de la Selva, near Girona, which has been in the business for many years. Patam.com is one of hundreds of establishments, including shops and stalls, that are authorized to sell fireworks in Catalonia at this time of year.