Not long to go ...
© José Joaquín Arazuri. Juan Etxepare en 1934 lanza el cohete en la plaza del Castillo.
Larrion and Pimoulier present the testimony of their friend Javier Alonso who days that he "remembers perfectly well, as well as some of his other friends, how a well-known republican and a great man from Pamplona called Etxepare was responsible for lighting the rocket in 1931, the first year of the Republic and he continued to do so until 1936 when the Civil War broke out. He was a witness of that first "txupinazo" opening rocket and he remembers that "he was dressed in the style of those days, with his dicky bow and straw hat."
This was the origin of the popular "txupinazo" opening rocket, similar to what we see today where there is a personality chosen to set off that first rocket to start the fiestas. Rockets had been fired off over many years before the 1931 initiative to announce the opening of fiestas- at least since 1901 - but in those years the employees of the fireworks firm - Oroquieta - would set off the rockets without any special symbolic value being given to the action. Etxepare first had the idea of making it a symbolic act in the republican years before the Civil war broke out in 1936 when Etxepare was then promptly executed by firing squad.
In 1939, with the ending of the Civil War, Joaquin Ilundain and Jose Maria Perez Salazar took up the tradition started by Etxepare. In 1949 Ilundain was named assistant Mayor and he continued with the tradition. He proposed to the then Mayor, Jose Garran Mosso, and his council, that the rocket should be sent off from the balcony of the City Hall. Ilundain himself was the first to set off the rocket from there and the tradition has continued uninterrupted since then.