Although downtown Cuenca is full of churches, the influence of the Catholic Church has waned a lot and the society is more secular. However, there is still a segment of the population that observes religious holidays. Often these take the form of parades that snake through the streets of Cuenca on Sunday afternoons. There have been three parades that we have been aware of since we arrived. The first parade was on January 15. The second was on January 29. We only got a brief glimpse of the third one which was on February 12.
The first part of the parade on January 15th had passed our street before I realized what was happening and so I did not get photos of the beginning of the parade as it traveled West along Primero de Mayo.
There was a marching band leading this float built around a large three-ton dump truck. The next float was a half-ton truck decorated with reindeer. It was followed by a group of people dressed in Santa Claus costumes. The Santas were followed by two cards draped in fabric and flowers. Often the trunk of the car was open and the interior of the trunk was decorated and several children were seated in the trunk.
It was not at all clear what the parade was celebrating. The Santas suggested Christmas but Christmas on the Julian calendar was celebrated on January 7, more than a week earlier than this (January 15).
This is a decorated truck with a crew-cab. A canopy has been built over the box to shade the riders. The truck is closely followed by a group of native women in their native costumes. This is followed by a half-ton truck with a canopy over the box. The last shot is taken from the rear to show the people riding in the truck box.
The next couple of floats emphasize more of the religios nature of the parade. Note the two angels on the first truck and the large picture showing Christ and two disciples on the second. These two were followed by several native women and men in traditional costumes.
Towards the end of the parade the vehicles were less-well-decorated. However, there were still lots of riders. The truck was followed by a group of native women from a different tribe. In the last photo we have a Ecuadorian women with her very elaborately costumed daughter. I’m not sure of the significance of the very elaborate costume, but there are numerous stores in downtown Cuenca that custom make and sell such elaborate costumes so there must be a good demand for them.
Near the end of the parade with this little girl (a niña) dressed in a clown costume. At the end of the parade was this truck with an elaborately dressed doll on the hood and an elaborately decorated tapestry on the roof. The last photo shows a closeup of the elaborate tapestry.
####### Parade 2, January 29, 2012 #######
This time I hustled outside when I heard a band playing and managed to catch the very start of the parade on Sunday, January 29, 2012. Although this parade was held long after the Christain celebration of three kings day (January 5 – January 18 on the Julian calendar) that marks the end of the Christmas season, it appears that this parade celebrates the arrival of the three wise men, Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar in Bethlehem. The children riding ponies at the start of the parade were elaborately costumed to represent the wise men.
There were quite a few riders at the beginning of the parade. This young lady was dressed as an angle complete with tinsel trimmed wings. There were two boys dressed as kings complete with crowns, long beards and flowing robes. There were other riders as well but they were not as elaborately costumed.
Following the horses and riders we had a mother pushing her youngster in a decorated stroller. This young native girl was proud to show off her fancy traditional costume. The third photo is a group of young native young people who were dancing to the music of the band of musicians.
When the parade halted for a few minutes, the native young people did an impromptu dance for the onlookers. The dancers were followed by two women carrying elaborately dressed dolls that probably represent the Christ child. They were followed by two children dressed to represent Mary and Joseph (note the halos).
This was a group of native women in traditional costumes. The different hat styles indicate that they are from two different tribes. Here is the brass band that provided music for the parade. They were followed by another group of native men and women in traditional costumes.
Here come the decorated cars. The first one had a child riding on the roof of the car. The next vehicle had a Christ doll on the hood and several people riding in the truck box under a canopy. The parade marshal, in hot pink, made sure that all the floats were in the proper order and moving along well.
Here one of the riders on one of the vehicles gave me a big smile and a wave. Towards the end of the parade, the vehicles did not seem to be decorated in a manner that was in keeping with the theme of the parade. For example, this truck was draped in fabric but had a pink plastic pig as a decoration on the hood. The last picture I took of the floats in this parade was of this decorated car. Who let the dogs out?
####### Parade 3, February 12, 2012 #######
This parade did not come down Primero de Mayo. We just happened on it by chance. We were walking along Primero de Mayo towards Avenue de Las Americas to meet some friends when we say the parade North along Av Loja and blocking traffic as it crossed Primero de Mayo. Most of the parade has passed before we got to the intersection but we did manage to get a few photos.
As we were approaching the intersection the floats were blocking traffic on Primero de Mayo. This parade included some rather large trucks draped in fabric and this truck all decked out with balloons.
In this last photo of the parade the floats have cleared the intersection and heading North along Av Loja over the bridge and under the viaduct. Since we didn’t see much of the parade, it was impossible to determine what event or festival, if any, the parade was celebrating.