Municipal workers carry out intricate work: fruits are hooked one by one to the large metallic structures. The highest structures are 6 meters high.
After travelling ‘Around the World in 80 days’, plunging ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’, visiting ‘The Chinese Empire’ and discovering the Cinecitta Film Studios last year, the Lemon Festival 2017 will revolve around the theme ‘the big apple’. This year, cult musicals and emblematic characters will be honored. For a few days, the Biovès gardens will take on the atmosphere of the ‘Fifth Avenue’ the most famous street in New York. Mary Poppins, the Wizard of Oz, the Jersey Brothers…all that’s missing is a Frank Sinatra song…
Over forty workers tend the gardens daily bring the festival to life. With real zest, the citrus fruits have gradually covered the enormous metal frames.
“All the structures are made of steel tubes, covered with round iron and a layer of mesh for the attachment of the fruits,” explains Clément Bodino, constructor-machinist for the company ‘Concept Événementiel’. “We’ve been working on it since September. Many structures are in pieces for transportation and are assembled here. In fact, it’s a bit of a construction puzzle,” smiles the worker.
Attached on pedestals, impressive frameworks rise in the sky, up to six meters high. Flanked by scaffolding, they hold thousands of yellow and orange citrus fruits.
“It’s a very careful job. Each fruit is attached to the fence individually,”explains Richard Cerutti, who has been an employee for the Mayor of Menton for 37 years. Passionate about the task, he does not take his eyes off his work. “We follow the diagrams made by computer and we hang the lemons and the oranges with elastics,” he continues. Nearly 800 kg of elastic will be used to attach the fruits to the frames.
More complex than other years
Christophe Ghiena, director of the municipal technical center, wishes to thank the team of workers, especially in view of this year’s difficult theme.
“It is a special year because the theme has necessitated much more complexity compared with other years,” exclaimed the supervisor of the preparations. Because “to create the desired atmosphere,” municipal services have relied on techniques that have never been done before. “We are no longer solely constructing massive structures. We are trying to integrate as many mechanized elements as possible, to make things less static,” he continues.
Animation has therefore been guaranteed. In the end, some sixty workers have been mobilized to prepare for this emblematic festival. The immense amount of work, which has been done in the shadows, will be put into the spotlight next week.
This year’s parades will be an attraction that should not be missed. The lemon floats are one of the main spectacles of this unique festival. The impressive parades along the Promenade du Soleil, make it one of the wildest carnivals in the world – the Lemon Festival would not be what it is today without them.
The parade will follow a long, winding road in the district of Fossan. The floats are currently being prepared in an old slaughterhouse in the city. The large metal doors of this huge building became a municipal workshop with an intimidating message: “You are not conquered land,” reads a sheet of paper taped to one of the doors. But if you dared to step inside, you would receive a very warm welcome. Welders, painters and carpenters are busy, hard at work and in a good mood.
Angel Landra, 37 years of experience, opens the door to his “paradise”
“There are lots of odds and ends, little details. We set the hands and heads and adjust the joints,” says Angel Landra, the workshop coordinator. For 37 years, he has been offering his loyal service to the town hall. The smiling foreman has participated in the preparations for the Lemon Festival many times. “From one year to the next, the job stays the same. But the theme this year is nice, you can really make some beautiful designs,” he enthuses.
Giving life to the characters Isabelle and Stephanie, two sculptors shape a thick piece of polystyrene. Less rigid than metal, the material offers flexibility, lightness and strength to the artists. The end result is a striking realism and accuracy comparable to real goldsmiths. “We use plaster. We can shape the hands for example and it allows us to have very specific sculptures,” says Angel Landra. “This year, we can use our creativity. We have a better choice of materials, this means we can make more complex patterns,” says Audrey Ferrari, painter. For her, the pressure is important: “We make characters that people know, characters from their childhood. We need the finished designs to be impeccable,” smiles the young woman.
More than 9,000 seats in the stands
To enjoy the parades at their best, every year the city department installs grandstands for the twenty days of celebration. Six forums have been placed throughout the city, along the route that takes place on Sunday the 12th of February. Weaving through the city, the route will link the Carnot Avenue loop at the Promenade du Soleil onwards through to Felix Faure Avenue. “The work was shared between the municipality and a private provider, Martel Events,” says Christophe Ghiena, director of the technical centre for the city of Menton. For three weeks, sixteen workers, composed of municipal officials and employees from a private contractor, have erected the 9,300 seats which will allow visitors to enjoy the best views of the parades. To guard against “the possibility of tumultuous crowds”, the municipality has also installed concrete barriers on the beach, along Promenade du Soleil.