Cuenca city officials hoped to confine Thursday’s Noche de los Compadres and Comadres, the official opening of the Carnaval holidays, to San Francisco Plaza but the plaza couldn’t contain the massive turnout. Surrounding streets and Parque Calderon, the traditional site of the event, were filled with thousands of celebrants.
“The crowd is much larger than we expected,” said National Police captain Jorge Serrano. “We thought there would be two or three thousand but there are many times that,” he said, adding, “The situation got out of hand but that’s okay. It looks like everyone is having a good time.”
The crowd listened to a series of bands perform on the plaza bandstand but most seemed more interested in dousing their neighbors with aerosol espuma and the air was filled with flying foam.
The streets of El Centro were filled with the carts of vendors selling food, espuma, balloons and other party items. Near midnight, when the performances concluded, the sky lit up with fireworks.
Officer Serrano said that it was impossible for the crowd to maintain social distancing and most party-goers were unmasked. “My orders are to maintain the peace, not to interfere with people enjoying themselves. The pandemic is ending and people want to celebrate.”