Every year since 1957, thousands of wide eyes have brightened Main Street on the 5th January, the Feast of the Epiphany to watch the Three King’s Cavalcade, the final and one of the most colourful events of the Gibraltarian Christmas.
Together with the thousands of Gibraltarians, it has been estimated that every year between 2,000 and 3,000 children and adults from the Campo de Gibraltar and other areas of nearby Spain cross the frontier to witness the spectacular display and of course, they come ‘por los caramelos’.
Led by the Three Kings themselves Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar the parade of floats, bands and walking groups will make their way from Casemates’ Square departing at 7:30 pm and stopping at the Piazza to take the salute of Gibraltar’s principal civic dignitary Mayor Kaiane Aldorino Lopez (Miss. World 2009).
We spoke to the head organizer of the annual Cavalcade Committee Eric Abudarham, who has been leading the volunteer-run organization since 2005 to find out what to expect this year:
“This year we have 16 long floats, 3 walking entities, 4 bands, plus the three Kings. We look forward to it every year because we see so much joy – not only from the little ones but the community at large.”
Prizes of £1,000, £500 and £250 go to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd winners; sums which obviously pale into insignificance when compared to the hours and expense that go into building floats of the quality that the citizens of Gibraltar demand.
Eric explained that the organization of the event is a year-long process; “Once we finish a Cavalcade, the following month we start preparing for the next one – there’s always something to do, but it’s a worthwhile cause.”
Every year clubs and associations, public services departments and private companies prepare for months to compete for the prizes for the best floats. These depict scenes from tales and children’s films, normally with wide representation from such as Disney, DreamWorks and Marvel Comics.
Among those last year were dazzling depictions from the Trolls animated film, Lego Christmas, Moana, Toy Story, The Little Mermaid and ‘Super Heroes’.
The Nativity scene takes pride of place because, as Eric explained “That’s what this is all about – we also visit the maternity wing of the Gibraltar Hospital which is of course symbolic of the birth of baby Jesus.”
For some years now the practice of throwing sweets and chocolates from the floats into the large crowds that line both sides of the Main Street has been replaced with the more sophisticated practice of handing them out by staff from Gibraltar Cultural Services.
Health & safety experts had concluded that some of the more excitable children on the flats had been using the public in attendance as ‘target practice’.