Javier Molina, businessman and showman, and Javier Ramírez, production technician of the Zaragoza City Council, are two historical ones of the Fiestas del Pilar. They agree that one of the best years that Zaragoza has lived was the arrival of the Ferris wheel on the banks of the Ebro river in mid-September 2013. It devastated more than 100,000 passengers in a year that had been marked by the economic crisis and, in Zaragoza, for the attack by an anarchist group that planted a homemade bomb in the Pilar basilica on October 2, shortly before the Fiestas. That year, the Aragonese endorsed the slogan: «Zaragoza is not touched».
The City Council accepted that the great attraction, which delighted young and old, would stay until January. A great business that “interested the company and the city,” recalls Javier Ramírez, mentioning councilor Jerónimo Blasco, who negotiated the installation. In principle, he was going to stay until October 27, but the thousands of visits led to a larger agreement until Christmas. In fact, the production technician points out that the success achieved that autumn and winter in Zaragoza led to study a project to fix it in Macanaz, with a taller Ferris wheel (95 meters high), next to the bus parking, although in the end it could not be forged. Even so, contacts with the company have not stopped with the passage of time and, after the dates of the ‘non-parties’ of the Pilar, they will speak with the Zaragoza City Council again.
The «tallest in Europe» portable Ferris wheel, 65 meters.
The manager of the Mirador Princess, Miguel Ángel Bañuls, a 44-year-old Sevillian, explained that year to HERALDO that he had decided to move from the fairground attraction “to the tallest portable Ferris wheel in Europe.” He said that he had seen the London model (the London Eye, located on the banks of the Thames) and began to build it for two years. That year, Zaragoza became one of the cities where it was most successful, along with Pamplona, Córdoba, Malaga, San Sebastián and Seville, and others from abroad. When he went to install it that year, Miguel Ángel Bañuls said that passengers were hooked on the attraction because it allowed a panoramic view of the cities and he was convinced that it would also happen in Zaragoza. “When word spreads that the whole city is seen, more people turn up.” So it was.
Javier Molina, who has managed the fair park with his company Orfeinte for twelve years, explained that the Ferris wheel installed at the Fiestas del Pilar next to the Helios club was very different from the one at the fair due to its capacity (333 passengers in the 42 booths ) and its profitability, since it needed to be installed longer than the usual three weeks of life in Valdespartera. Even so, he specified that the first time they installed the Mirador Princess wheel was at the fair in 2012 to make it known in Zaragoza, although fewer people got there.
A proposal for a floating berth for a ship
Before settling in, two locations were considered: the banks of the Ebro or Macanaz. In 2013, soil tests were carried out and in the end it was decided to be close to the river, “due to the view of the Ebro and the basilica of the Pilar” that it offered to the passengers. Javier Ramírez indicates that the following year, a report from the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation led him to settle in Macanaz. In addition, the manager of the company Noria Mirador made public his proposal to the Zaragoza City Council in this newspaper to imitate the London model, where boats that sail the Thames can combine their ticket with that of the London Eye. «It would take a floating berth or dock on the shore so that the passengers of the ship could get on the Ferris wheel», Indicated Bañuls.