At midnight, think Danté’s hell; Think Mad Max; Think Happy New Year Cuenca!

Dec 31, 2018 | 1 comment

A crowd in El Centro watch año viejo dummies go up in flames in 2017.

By Sylvan Hardy

When the clock ticks over to 2019 tonight, an observer with an elevated vantage point in Cuenca’s historic district will behold an other-worldly sight: thousands of fires burning in the streets and a sky filled with smoke and fireworks.

Another one bites the dust.

Think Danté’s hell. Think Mad Max. Think Happy New Year Cuenca!

New Year’s Eve in Cuenca is when all the dummies, or monigotes, for sale on city street corners for the past two weeks, go up in flames.

The life-sized dummies representing the old year, the año viejo, are made of cloth and filled with whatever their makers have at hand, ranging from ground cardboard, sawdust, straw, leaves and even barnyard manure, composted or not. The dummy masks bear a resemblance to anyone from presidents, mayors and city councilmen, to wayward family members and the recently departed.

Former president Rafael Correa and vice president Jorge Glas are well represented among año viejo dummies for sale this year.

Some of the most popular masks this year are of Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, former president Rafael Correa, former vice president — in prison garb — Jorge Glas, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Ecuador President Lenin Moreno. In addition, many of the dummies wear masks of cartoon and movie characters.

For more about the dummies and masks, click here.

Some Cuenca neighborhoods are participating in a New Year’s contest of satirical exhibits.

Down in the streets, amid the racket of firecrackers and smoke, friends and strangers will exchange well-wishes. A few daring revelers will jump over the fires for good luck. If the jump is miscalculated and the jumper lands in the flames, his luck will probably not be good.

News Year’s Eve parties and concerts

For those inclined to go out on the town before the clock strikes midnight, there are plenty of options (see today’s Under the Domes column for sign up details).

Jumping over burning dummies three times is thought to bring good luck but not if you fall short.

There’s a “Retro American Music” dinner show at Los Balcones featuring the “Sinatra King, Robert Sanders, corner of Borrero and Sangurima (site of the first California Kitchen). Price $25.

For big drinkers with deep pockets, Hotel Oro Verde on Av Ordonez Lasso is offering an Open bar and buffet, for an entry fee of $99.

Santa Canela Bar and Grill, Calle Larga, presents the blues band, Gatos Negros, for a cover of $5.

Hearts of Gold is offering a New Year’s Eve Happy Hour and Great Monigote Contest at Boogalo Forever, Av. Francisco Moscoso 3-31 y Nicanor Aguilar, near 911 Building. There’s a $10 cover charge.

Bar hours extended

If you want to party at a local bar, Ecuador’s interior ministry is allowing the country’s drinking establishment to stay open until 3 a.m. New Year’s morning.

Beware the constabulary

There will be hundreds of national police and citizen guards on the streets tonight making sure the revelry doesn’t get out of hand. Among other things, they will be enforcing the new rule against burning dummies on tram tracks or on station platforms.

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