Saturday’s traditional exchange of godfather duties for Cuenca’s El Niño, the 200-year-old statue of the Christ child, marked the final preparation for today’s Christmas Eve parade.
In the ceremony at the cathedral Saturday night, the Third (Tarqui) Army Division handed over responsibilities for El Niño to the Azuay Province National Police. Cuenca Archbishop Monsignor Marcos Pérez Caicedo gave the blessing to the new godfather, which is responsible for protecting the statue as it leads today’s parade.
Earlier in the day, El Niño participated in ceremonies in several city churches.
Late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, hundreds of parade workers completed final preparations for the floats that will pass down Calle Simon Bolivar today. At several staging areas, hundreds of horses were dressed and saddled-up for their children riders.
In all, an estimated 10,000 will participate in the parade with about 100,000 more looking on along the parade route. Officially, the parade begins at 9:30 and will continue until mid-afternoon.
As it has for years, Cuenca’s Pulla Álvarez family will hand out free chicha near the intersection of Bolivar and Tarqui. They have worked for weeks, preparing hundreds of gallons of the highly potent drink.
If you want free bread with your chicha, look for Carmela Llivipuma and her friends on Simon Bolivar between Padre Aguirre and Benigno Malo. They’re handing out thousands of fresh-baked rolls.
For more about the parade, check yesterday’s article about the Pase del Niño.