800 Floats! 60,000 Participants! What a Parade!!
As the the parade wore on, most of the kids became bored or plain unhappy
Today was Pase del Nino Viajero, or Parade of the Traveling Child. It is the largest celebration and parade of the year, taking place on Christmas Eve day each year. All the towns of Ecuador have such a parade, but Cuenca has the largest. It was estimated that this year there were 800 floats and 60,000 participants. That is quite an undertaking in a city of 400,000 people -- about the size of Oakland, high in the Andes in a country with half the population of California.
Evelyn and I started out at 9:00 this morning, an hour before the parade started, by taking photographs of the revelers setting up and preparing. We then posted ourselves on various street corners letting the parade go by, then walking along with the parade for a few blocks until stopping again. Parades here are not cordoned off, as in the States, and it was easy to walk into the middle of any group and photograph, or just plain join the parade for awhile. The number of people in the parade easily outnumbered those standing on the side watching it go by.
Trying to make sense of the more than 1500 photos between us, I decided to let this become out longest post to date, showing our favorite images in various categories.
This statue is the star of the parade, and had an honor guard. It was taken to the Vatican and consecrated by the Pope in 1961.
Angel costumes were the most prevalent
Roman soldiers were the second most common theme
Kings and shepherds were also a common theme
There were also several Santas
Each school group was preceded by a banner
There were bands galore
Lots of dancers too
Lots of kids on horses
Military were on horseback too
Where there are horses, there is ...
Floats and horses were often adorned with massive amounts of food
All the news crews were on one block, with people being interviewed on-camera
There were plenty of police around, though I never saw any signs of trouble
There were lots of Christ statues
Many young kids rode on their father's shoulders
While babies slept or played, unaware that they were the center of attention
Almost everybody was happy to be photographed
Kids were getting pretty tired by the end of the parade
Kids would often perk up at the sight of a camera, then go back to a bored stupor...
The spectators were often as interesting as the parade participants
Those with balconies along the route had prime viewing
We spent a couple hours on a 4th floor balcony, which gave an overview of the parade stretching to the horizon