Last night the traditional Three Kings parade took place in Benidorm – centred around the Old Town. It was hard to decide who was more excited out of the thousands of children or Spanish pensioners! This was most evident when the sweets were thrown out to the crowds from the passing floats and it really was handbags at dawn, with each scrambling and elbowing each other out of the way.
The procession started almost on time – an unexpected bonus here in Spain as they are not renowned for their punctual time keeping, setting off from Dove Park. Over 600 people participated in the parade – the first half which had a fun carnival-like feel, with popular characters such as the Minions, Lion King and Alice in Wonderland taking part.
There were dance displays and bands in between each float and a good selection of animals. Well behaved geese, chickens, turkeys - Iam sure that local restaurants were sharpening their knives in the hope that some may go astray, as well as larger livestock such as horses, camels and oxen.
The second part of the parade was the traditional religious aspect, with a nativity scene featured Mary, Joseph and a baby Jesus plus the highlight of the evening– The Three Kings: Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar who all arrived on the same float this year.
Once the floats had departed from Dove park I walked along the ‘walking Street’ to the bottom of the Avd Ruzafa to catch it again – but it was over 45 minutes before the first one even arrived! As I stood behind a solid row of front line pensioners a family with 3 young children arrived and asked whether their children – not them, could go to the front and sit on the curb.
The united response was NO – unbelievable. We all explained that it was actually for the children, they would be sitting and in no way obstructing their vision but they were adamant in their reply “We came early to stake our place and so should you”.
The parade finished at the Town Hall, where the Three Kings made there way to the stage, carrying the traditional gold, frankincense and myrrh which was presented to baby Jesus. The Mayor greeted them and gave a brief speech to the crowds which when finished was followed by a firework display, lit from the Town Hall roof.
Each child – and there were absolutely hundreds, with the queue snaking all around the main square, then made their way to the stage. They were given a small cuddly toy by one of the Kings and had their photo taken by excited parents…. it took hours.
They then headed off home, probably the only time of the year children are eager to get to bed and wake up this morning to see what the Kings had bought them…. the bins are probably overflowing across the entire country today. At least it’s back to school tomorrow so parents can have a rest… or head off to the Zara sale!