More than 1,000 police officers will be on hand to ensure security at the main Three Kings parade in Madrid on Friday. The officers will be spaced out along the route of the parade, which will travel from the Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz square to the Plaza de Cibeles square.
The parade will be led by the Christmas Star float, which has been decorated with origami made by locals, followed by 14 more floats, dozens of street theater performers, six choreographed shows, an eight-meter giant and of course, Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar.
In the last three years, Madrid’s Three Kings parade has given priority seating to disadvantaged children and people with reduced mobility. Nearly 300 spots to watch the parade are reserved for people with mobility problems and 30 stands are open to the public.
All vehicles except for cars have been banned from the streets near the parade – authorities have asked people to use public transport – and planters and bollards have been installed in central locations to prevent a possible repetition of the terrorist attacks in Catalonia in August in which 16 people were killed.
As part of the new security measures, traffic cameras will be used to record images and share them in real time with the security control center in the Plaza de Cibeles square. A helicopter will also fly overhead to survey the parade.
In addition to Madrid’s biggest Three Kings parade, 17 more processions have been organized in different neighborhoods in the city – one of which is on increased alert after receiving a number of threats. In the Puente de Vallecas district in the south of Madrid, the parade has come under attack for including a pro-diversity float including a drag queen.
Instead of the three kings, the float will feature three queens, played by singer and drag queen La Prohibida, actress Roma Calderón and hip hop singer Dnoé Lamiss. The organization behind the float Orgullo Vallekano, a collective committed to LGBT rights, has been targeted with threats on social media. “Take care, tinsel and cardboard burn very easily. And there will be blowtorches and dangerous things nearby,” wrote Twitter user @FyHonor. The user later apologized for those words.
On another internet forum, user Patoaventuras wrote,“You have options to fight against this offense. Eggs, rocks, standing in the way of the float, anonymous calls to the association [that created the float].”
But the Orgullo Vallekano collective behind the float, which has been promoting LGBT rights in the area for years, insists such messages give them “more strength to keep working,” “Vallecas is a neighborhood of fighters. We will defeat hate.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.