Photo: Three Kings Day
Thousands of children on Sunday filled the streets of cities and towns around Spain to see the Three Kings parades including floats, costumed paraders, tons of candy and thousands of gifts of all sorts, a delightful yearly event enjoyed by kids of all ages as well as adults.
In addition to the colors, lights and music, the paraders riding the floats distributed tons of sweets to the crowds while children gazed longingly at the toys displayed there, hoping to receive the gifts they desire most this evening at home after placing a glass of milk out for the “visiting” Three Kings and a carrot or two for their camels or horses.
Since the early afternoon, the downtown areas of Spain’s largest cities have been closed to traffic and crowded with thousands of families jockeying for the best positions at streetside to view the passing parades.
This year, many cities have strengthened security with more police and sturdier barricades along the parade routes after last year a 6-year-old boy died in the southern city of Malaga after being run over by a float.
Various measures also have been taken so that the candies thrown from the floats fall far from the vehicles to prevent danger to the kids scrambling on the pavement for the sweets.
This is also a big day for businesses, with retail stores staying open until late at night to serve those who waited until the last minute to buy gifts both for their children and other adults.
After the Christmas season, most of Spain’s businesses and big stores have moved up the discount period that traditionally has begun on Jan. 7 with an eye toward spurring sales amid the ongoing economic crisis.
The Madrid Three Kings Parade is one of the largest, normally attracting about a million people, and this year it included about 20 floats, three camels, three university bands, a mechanical elephant, two cavalry squadrons, a unicorn and a gigantic owl.
The light but persistent rain did not seem to dampen the spirits of the crowd who turned out for the capital’s colorful event.