MADRID, Spain – With solemn Easter processions filling many of Spain's streets, some 5,000 people gathered for a baudy, pagan tribute to a lusty, moonshine-loving, animal-pelt vendor who was run over by a garbage truck on Holy Thursday in 1929.
The northern city of Leon (search) — hometown of Spain's prime minister — hosted the yearly tribute to Genaro Blanco (search), a rakish figure who frequented brothels, drank a lot and basked in counterculture fame, the national news agency Efe reported Friday.
Blanco died on Holy Thursday (search) in 1929 when Leon's very first garbage truck ran over him as he urinated against a wall.
Ever since then, a commemorative fraternity has carried a statue of him through Leon — an earthy, tongue-in-cheek parenthesis amid the colorful but very serious Easter processions held around Spain to mark Christ's passion and death.
The tribute to Blanco was held secretly for decades during the rule of Gen. Francisco Franco (search), who had banned it.
This year some 5,000 people took part in the march Thursday night — fresh from a dinner banquet with a time-honored menu: garlic soup, codfish and free-flowing marc, a liquor made from grape skins, stems and seeds.