Bastille Celebrations: Champagne Race, Frenchmen Honored, French Bread Gifts With
Jul. 15, 1989
Bastille Celebrations: Champagne Race, Frenchmen Honored, French Bread Gifts With PM-France-Bicentennial, Bjt
Undated (AP) _ In Paris, Texas, two French visitors became instant celebrities. Philadelphia waiters raced with champagne. And passengers at a New York City airport received loaves of French bread.
Thousands of Americans on Friday celebrated the French's bicentennial of Bastille Day. It marked the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison in Paris, the start of the French Revolution.
But the celebration in Paris, Texas, beginning Friday and lasting through the weekend, opened with a problem - no French representatives.
Linda Suarez of the Paris Chamber of Commerce said she couldn't lure French officials to the northeast Texas town of 27,000 for the celebration, which includes a bike race called the Tour de Paris.
So when French residents Jean Claud Savouret, 57, and Dennis Perraut, 38, arrived at the festivities, they became honored guests.
''They'll be our special ambassadors,'' Suarez said after meeting the two, who were visiting friends in the area.
Said Perraut: ''I feel glad for us as Frenchmen to celebrate in Paris, Texas.''
In Philadelphia, 115 waiters and waitresses carrying full bottles of champagne ran 11 blocks, opened the bubbly and served it with style to a panel of judges. They were after a free trip to France.
Competitors, who also carried a glass of water and a French flag, had to finish with the water glass at least half-full and the champagne bottle intact.
Ali Niknam, 37, won. John Rojas, 23, a Colombian native, was second.
''I ran for the Spanish people in Philadelphia,'' Rojas said.
Passengers at a LaGuardia Airport terminal got loaves of French bread and the Parks Department presented ''Les Inconsolables,'' an accordian-and-torch song group, in New York City's celebration.
Cast members from the Broadway musicals ''Les Miserables'' and ''Phantom of the Opera'' attended a Bastille Day luncheon to benefit a soup kitchen.
There was one Bastille Day controversy in New York, though: An American artist harboring a 13-year grudge burned a French flag in front of the French Consulate. Richard Lance Corey said he was protesting treatment of artists at an exhibit in Paris held in December 1975 and January 1976.
And in Chicago, the Chicago Surrealist Group passed out leaflets denouncing the anniversary events as ''a trivialization of an important landmark of human freedom.''
One French-owned hotel in a Chicago suburb featured a giant guillotine made of cream puffs and a sugar model of the Bastille at its bicentennial celebration.
In Wyoming, three French climbers on Friday ascended the Grand Teton, the three peaks that cap the Teton Range. Mountain guide Art Peters said the Bastille Day climb was a joint project with three Americans climbing in Chamonix and Mount Blanc, France.
Peters said the Tetons were first discovered by French fur trappers in the early 1800s who named them ''Les Troix Tetons,'' meaning the three breasts.
Farther west, at Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, Calif., organizers of a bicentennial celebration on Sunday continued to build a 50-foot-high layer cake.
The cake, which was to be attached to a frame today, was to include two models of Paris' Arc de Triomphe stacked atop one another, with a version of the Eiffel Tower across the arcs.
''I think it's the largest cake you can build without a foundation system,'' said architect David Davis, one of its designers. Originally, the cake was planned for 100 feet, but that would have required a building permit.