Friday, 7 Aug 2020

Swiss mountains light up in a national day celebration to suit Covid-19 era

EVOLENE (REUTERS) – A section of the Alps turned amber on Friday (July 31) night in a massive pyrotechnic display as Switzerland marked its national day with an event suited to Covid-19 and social distancing rules.

The mountain chains of Veisivi and Dent de Perroc, which tower nearly 4,000m in the southern canton of Wallis, saw more than 100kg of magnesium powder ignited in the event.

Although Swiss National Day is on Aug 1, many people celebrate the night before. The date marks the foundation of Switzerland in 1291.

The show, which illuminated 12 sq km of the mountains, was visible from 20km away.

“It is like 100 million candles being lit on the mountains and gives them a lovely warm glow,” said organiser Jacques Morard, who runs Jimagine, an events company in Montreux.

“Lots of people around Switzerland normally have fireworks to celebrate our national day, but they weren’t able to this year because of distancing regulations.”

Gatherings of more than 1,000 people are currently banned to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Thousands of spectators gathered in the Evolene valley below to see the three-minute long display, at a safe distance from each other.


The mountain chains of Veisivi and Dent de Perroc saw more than 100kg of magnesium powder ignited in the event. PHOTO: REUTERS

The show followed a similar display in 2015, when magnesium powder was used to turn mountains red for the anniversary of Wallis joining Switzerland, an event also organised by Mr Morard.

Mr Morard, 62, said many events he was organising this year had to be cancelled because of Covid-19.

“As a Swiss person, I am very proud to have an idea which works to mark our national day, and bring some joy even in this terrible situation,” he added.

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