MIAMI

At Tobacco Road in Miami, a war of tomatoes

 

mfinch@MiamiHerald.com

Here at Miami’s birthplace for blues and booze, a battle raged.

A melee of Corona-soaked revelry aimed to rid a farm of its winter excess of tomatoes.

The crowd of university students, kickball leagues and business consultants stood around some 20,000 pounds of the vegetable-like fruit behind the bar Tobacco Road on Saturday.

The concept was simple: Launch as many tomatoes as your arms can wield. Wash it off at the nearby shower. Wash it down with more beer.

As South Florida shtick goes, this was the gold standard.

“You guys put your hands in position,” James Goll, who markets the festival, said through a megaphone.

“Let’s fire it up.”

The throng responded with the jest of 20-year-olds, cheering, camera phones raised skyward. Two girls crouched beneath a table that doubled as a barricade.

“Get back,” Goll said. “Get back.”

As the fire truck rang its siren, he gave them their cue. The participants launched toward the red dunes.

The stench of fermenting tomatoes wafted in the air.

Among them were couple Chris Gunn and Ginny Cannon, who lasted a few minutes until they ambled back into the safety of the crowd. “Mayhem,” Gunn said of the first few minutes.

He kissed Cannon on the face and they both walked back into the multitude.

They threw tomatoes until it turned into slush and it stuck like a paste on their bodies and faces.

TV crews had their fill of the camera-ready goodness.

A man who only identified himself as Jack survived all of 30 seconds until the fun turned against him. “I got nailed with a tomato,” he said, holding an ice pack on his swollen eye.

Injuries do occur, Goll said. Since the festival began last year, there has not been anything serious, though. “A lot of people just want to take out some aggression,” he said.

The free-for-all endured about 45 minutes until a fire truck washed away the mashed up mess. They hosed down the asphalt until it formed a river of red out into the parking lot and onto Southwest Seventh Street.

A day’s worth of fun gone down the drain.

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