By Jamil Enrique Moscoso Villegas
Giant dummies are taking over one of Quito’s most heavily traveled streets today as the city says goodbye to 2017 at its annual Festival de Años Viejos.
The massive display of dummies, or monigotes, runs from 11 a.m.to 6 p.m. on Av. Amazonas, and is expected to draw roughly 600.000 spectators.
Festival organizer, Diario Metro, says that a panel of judges will choose the three best dummies. Judges include representatives from the culture department of the municipality of Quito (Secretaria de Cultura) and staffers from Dario Metro.
The dummies, which represent popular cultural and political themes, will appear on raised platforms on Av. Amazonas, between Avs. Patria and Colón. Among the organizations competing for prizes are the National Telecommunications Corporation (CNT), the Quito fire department, the Metropolitan District of Quito (CBQ), and the National Union of Educators (UNE).
The winners, who will be announced next week, will receive gift certificates.
Because of the large crowds that are expected, the Quito government has assigned 688 personnel to the event, including police officers and firefighters. Motorized traffic, including public buses, will be rerouted from the section of Av. Amazonas where the festival is being held.
City prohibits burning dummies in the streets
In additional to providing security for the festival, the Quito government has assigned 4,630 personnel to ensure public safety during the New Year’s celebration. Juan Zapata, director for the city security department (Secretaria de Seguridad y Gobernabilidad), told the newspaper El Comercio that the plan is to put a special emphasis on preventing citizens from burning dummies on the streets.
According to Zapata, heat from the fires can damage asphalt surfaces and he says that 800 police officers will enforce the new regulation citywide. Zapata also reminds residents that Ecuador’s Ley de Defensa Contra Incendios) bans the detonation of firecrackers and rockets on streets and in other public venues and that wrongdoers will be fined up to two minimum wages and imprisoned from six to 15 days.
Businesses in the city, including bars and stores that sell alcoholic beverages, will be able to operate until 4 a.m. on January 1.