For the first time in almost 60 years, there will be no Christmas Eve Pase del Niño parade in Cuenca this year. The city’s biggest celebration of the year, the parade attracts between 150,000 and 200,000 participants and spectators.
Cuenca’s Emergency Operations Committee decided Thursday that it would be impossible to stage the parade due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “We regret the decision but the pandemic leaves us no other option since it is impossible to maintain social distancing for the event,” Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios said following the COE meeting. “Massive public events are prohibited under our biosecurity protocols and the parade would bring thousands of people in close proximity.”
The Catholic Archdiocese said it would hold the traditional liturgical celebrations at the cathedral, however, while maintaining social distancing requirements. The church said it planned helicopter overflights of the city with the Niño and would announce details later. “We are coordinating these with the Army so all of Cuenca can witness and appreciate the miracle of our beloved Niño Viajero,” the Archdiocese said in statement. “We also hope to organize a motor tour of the Niño through the streets of all of the city’s parroquias.”
The Niño is a statue of the Christ child created in 1823 and donated to the church. It was given its “viajero” (traveler) name following its visit to the Holy Land and the Vatican in 1961 with a delegation of Cuenca clergy. During its visit to Rome, the Niño received the blessing of Pope John XXIII.
World’s oldest married man dies in Quito
Only months after he was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest married man, Julio César Mora, 110 years old, has died at his home in Quito. He is survived by his wife Waldramina Maclovia Quinteros Reyes, 104. The couple had been married for 79 years. When asked the secret to a long, happy marriage, Julio said: “Do what she says.” For more about Waldramina and Julio César, click here.
Cuenca COE allows Day of the Dead cemetery visits
The Cuenca Emergency Operations Committee agreed Friday to allow Day of the Dead visits to local cemeteries on November 2. The COE said the visits will be allowed “as long as the defined cemetery capacity is respected and when sufficient city personnel are available to ensure biosecurity measures are observed.”
The decision follows a recommendation by the national COE that cemetery visits not be allowed this year due to the pandemic. Most of the country’s cities say they will follow the advice.
“We respect the government’s recommendation but believe we can allow visitations under controlled circumstances,” Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios said. “Our decision was based on a review of local pandemic statistics and our ability to control access to cemeteries.” He added that the number of Covid-19 infections increased last week over the previous week but said it was due to the Guayaquil holiday. “This was expected but we also note that the number of hospitalizations has not increased.”
School to reopen under pilot project
Cuenca’s private Stiehle German School will be allowed to resume in-person classes on November 30 under a pilot project approved by the Cuenca Emergency Operations Committee. According to the COE, the school must submit a plan outlining biosecurity measures, including social distancing in classrooms and during non-classroom activities. The COE said it would evaluate Stiehle’s result for future decisions to reopen private and public schools in Cuenca.