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8. Snow In The Tropics

La Brega

WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios

Podcast, Puerto, San, Historia, La, De, Vieques, Juan, Rico, Society & Culture, Levittown, Noticias, Brega

4.91K Ratings

🗓️ 6 January 2022

⏱️ 30 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


During the early 1950s, the children of Puerto Rico were invited to an icy winter spectacle. Mayor Felisa Rincón de Gautier, the charismatic mayor of San Juan, arranged for Eastern Airlines to bring a plane-load of snow for a snowball fight in the city. It was a feat that has become legend for a whole generation. But while this winter wonderland came to San Juan free of charge, it wasn't without a cost. In this special holiday episode of La Brega, we learn how the snow was actually transported to San Juan from Hilda Jimenez, Doña Fela’s assistant. And we hear from some of the people who experienced it up-close. Ignacio Rivera (of the radio program Fuego Cruzado) was 8 years old and threw snowballs; the artist Antonio Martorell remembers that too, but also sees the event as part of Puerto Rico’s troubling colonial relationship with the United States. Seventy years later – when ice is at an even greater premium – journalist and author Ana Teresa Toro says Puerto Rico is still grappling with how to understand that special delivery. To learn more about Doña Fela, we recommend a visit to the Casa Museo Felisa Rincón de Gautier. You can learn more about Antonio Martorell in a recent documentary called El Accidente Feliz. His portrait of the mayor is here. The snowball fight is also the subject of a piece by the artist Sofía Gallisá Muriente, called Lluvia con nieve, now part of Whitney's collection. Ana Teresa Toro’s new book of poetry is “Flora animal.”

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Hey quick note, there are English and Spanish episodes of La Brega.


This is the English one.


If you want to ask you to


to ask you to speak,


well be alphir and selection the


abercion with the title in the spaniel.




Listen to Supported.


WNY studios. Many years later as he sat for an interview, Ignacio Rivera was to remember that distant


morning when his father took him to discover snow in San Juan.


I thought that it was almost impossible for me to have seen snow, but at that time it was something that came from the moon, something strange, you know, like going to Mars, something out of the imagination.


It had been announced in all the newspapers.


Snow was coming. It was the early 1950s. Ignacio was around eight years old living with


his parents in Barrio Obrero. From watching movies I know Snow was white, but I had no idea what cold was because I never been exposed to under 70 degrees in my life.


You don't know how it falls, how it accumulates, how it turns into ice once it starts to melt.


And it came. Real fluffy snow, cold and fresh from the slopes of the northeast, brought to a city park for a snowball fight.


I simply enjoy myself, had a snow fight with my friends, something that we knew he would never see again, because that's a one-shot deal.


It actually wasn't a one-shot deal.


For four years in a row, kids in Puerto Rico were invited


to the snowball fight in the tropics, to see snowmen assembled under palm trees.


For a brief moment in the early 1950s, it was a miracle that kept happening.


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