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

  • John Revill and Denis Balibouse

    Reuters

Evolene, Switzerland   /   Sat, August 1, 2020   /   02:05 pm
Swiss mountains light up in a national day celebration to suit COVID-19 era The mountain chains of Veisivi and Dent de Perroc are illuminated by 100 kg of the magnesium powder to celebrate Swiss National Day following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Ferpecle near Evolene in the Val d'Herens, Switzerland July 31, 2020. (Office du Tourisme Evolene/Reuters/Louis Dasselborne)

A section of the Alps turned amber on Friday 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 4,000 meters in the southern canton of Wallis, saw more than 100 kg 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 square km of the mountains, was visible from 20 km away.

"It is like 100 million candles being lit on the mountains and gives them a lovely warm glow," said organizer 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.

Read also: Swiss Alps alive with sound of music at drive-in festival

A picture taken on on July 31, 2020 near Schwagalp, eastern Switzerland, shows a huge 6,400 square meters Swiss flag hanging on the rock face of mountain Saentis on the eve of Swiss national day.   (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini).  Usage: 0A picture taken on on July 31, 2020 near Schwagalp, eastern Switzerland, shows a huge 6,400 square meters Swiss flag hanging on the rock face of mountain Saentis on the eve of Swiss national day. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini). Usage: 0 (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

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

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 Morard.

Morard, 62, said many events he was organizing 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," Morard added.