2017 Cuenca Pase del Niño Parade
This was our sixth viewing of the annual Pase del Niño parade in Cuenca (see here for the report of our first viewing in 2012).
The festivities start with a Catholic mass at Iglesia Carmen de la Asunción, built in 1730 and located at the Flower Market, usually around 8:30 AM, but things were running late this time. (The church can be seen in the next image below) The Traveling Child statue is then carried by various dignitaries along Simón Bolivar to the official starting point of the parade at Iglesia San Sebastian. The most prominent dignitaries always include the Cuenca mayor (Marcelo Cabrera this year) and the Catholic Archbishop (Marcos Pérez, who was newly appointed last year), as seen in the lower-right image.
The initial crowds were huge, as always, with TV crews having their jibs everywhere (top-middle). There were more cameras out this year than we remember from before (top-left), and even a drone (OK, that was mine -- top-right ☺ ). The parade looks like it extends to infinity in the drone image bottom-left. In reality, the parade had thinned out already by 1:00 pm -- and this is a parade that was jammed packed with both participants and viewers until 6:00 pm back in 2012... There were LOTs of umbrellas out this year, because the sun was very bright, and there have been many UV level warnings in recent weeks.
For the first time this year, we saw sections set aside on the sidewalk for seniors in wheelchairs across from Iglesia San Sebastian (lower row). Ecuador elected Lenin Moreno as president this year, and he is confined to a wheelchair. We believe that may be why there was wheelchair access provided to the parade this year for the first time.
The official Niño Viajero (traveling child) statue is revered in Cuenca, and is carried by the mayor, archbishop, and other Cuenca dignitaries, as seen in the first image at the top of this post. However, many parade participants bring their own versions of the holy infant to carry along the parade route too.
Music is always a big part of this parade, and the military provides several marching bands for that purpose (left column). They also have ceremonial troops marching to provide color and pageantry (middle and top-left). Other groups play along the route too, providing their musical accompaniment (right column).
Where there is music, there will be dancers. Though mostly in groups (left column), there are some that dance more-or-less alone (right column). Interestingly, we've seen the man (a retired University professor) in the lower-right from many past parades. His infectious smile and energy are easy to remember.
There appeared to be fewer large motorized floats this year compared to prior years. However, as always, there were plenty of horses, many of which were adorned with food, candy, empty beer cans, cuy, roasted pigs, chickens, giant Teddy bears and flowers. These represent the gifts that the Three Magi presented to Jesus in the manger.
When watching any parade, be sure to turn and watch the audience too. They are often as interesting as the main show in the street.
Adults were certainly part of the celebrations. The woman top-left is a TV anchor-woman, about to go on-camera. The center image is an extended family that has come for the celebration, some in the parade while others were in the audience. Along a side street is the scene lower-center, with a mural put around the Plaza de San Francisco construction site, and the iconic New Cathedral domes in the background (with one dome wrapped in scaffolding, as it is also under renovation).
Paseo del Niño is about the kids ("Niño" is the Spanish word for child), and they are the dominant group in the parade.
Even infants, too young to understand any of this, are dressed up, fed and march in the parade.