As your Cultist correspondent writes this report, she is still holding an ice pack to her cheek as a result of minor impact injury from being pelted with thousands of tomatoes at the Flying Tomato Smash & Bash that took place at Tobacco Road on Saturday.
The sticky soiree, a nod to a larger-scale event that takes place every year in Spain, packs revelers into an arena, then supplies them with tens of thousands of tomatoes to throw at each other. You know, just for fun.
The original event, dubbed La Tomatina, is an annual festival held in the Valencian town of Buñol along the eastern edge of Spain. While the original Tomatina involves around 150,000 tomatoes, Tobacco Road scaled things back several notches for its version of the event. Up to 1,000 people were invited into a barricaded area behind the bar to throw 25,000 Homestead-grown tomatoes. For $10, Miamians could paint Brickell red and enjoy free beer afterwards while mingling with fellow fruit-throwing enthusiasts.
And as luck (and irony) would have it, we attended the
Smash & Bash with an actual Spaniard who just happened to be in
Miami for business last week. He said that according to popular street
legend, the original Tomatina began with an argument between two
neighbors in the 1940s. Things heated up between the bickering foes and,
lacking any better weapons, they started throwing tomatoes at each
other from a nearby stand. Soon, extended family members joined in, and before you could say "V8," the whole village of Buñol had
joined in the blood-red tomato massacre.
Whatever its origins, La Tomatina has become
a cornerstone in the annual Spanish festival circuit. Tomatoes are
thrown from massive dump trucks that cruise through the street.
Businesses located within the "splatter zone" spend days prior to the event
protecting buildings with plastic. Participants pour in from all over
the world; last year, more than 40,000 revelers took to the Buñol
Size-wise, the Tobacco Road Tomatina was just a smidgeon of a
fest in comparison. But the atmosphere was nothing short of thrilling.
Beginning around 2 p.m., participants eagerly hovered around the fenced-in
arena, within which the plump, oozing fruit sat in massive piles. The
green light came at around 4 p.m., and what ensued afterwards was nothing
short of sticky-sweet anarchy.
The crowd dissolved into chants
of "U.S.A!" and the popular Spanish soccer chant "Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé,"
as everyone was quickly doused in a red paste as tomatoes became soft
and crushed. Those that thought ahead and brought goggles and rain
ponchos for protection quickly discarded them (for one thing, it became
impossible to see anything out of goggles after the second
tomato-to-the-face). Spectators standing outside the direct line of fire
became targets. Girls laid down to make tomato angels in the
It is a strange, cathartic feeling to smash
and be smashed with tomatoes. The adrenaline rush was fierce and
contagious, and it kept the underlying awkwardness of the event at bay.
Our Spanish visitor agreed that, while the Miami Tomatina was a wisp
compared to the festival in Buñol, the enthusiasm was most definitely on
The tossing lasted under an hour, after which a
shivering mob of splatter victims rushed the bar to take advantage of
the free beer. Yes, free beer was involved, and that obviously made
standing around Brickell covered in tomato chunks seem much more
The tomato slaughter was fun as hell, other than the
minor bruising. Note to Tobacco Road: in Buñol, it's a city council rule
for the festival that the tomatoes must be squashed before throwing to
avoid injuries. Tomatoes may seem soft and yielding in the mouth, but
that first five minutes of pelting hurt. We look forward to a
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repeat of the Smash & Bash next year -- hopefully with a little pre-smashing involved.
Wanna see the rest of the carnage? Check out our slideshow of photos from the event.