Tres Reyes Parade - A Mom’s Perspective!

Don Harris | January 2010

Amy, Tim, my eldest son, and their two boys have just arrived in Andalucía for a six month stay, or shall I say “adventure.” The boys, 7 and 9 will be attending a small Spanish/English school in Jerez de la Frontera — just as their father had done 36 years ago — except he was at El Centro Inglés in Puerto, when I was in the Navy.

I am including a portion of an entertaining email from Amy. It is an account of Three Kings Day — the boys’ first encounter with Spanish culture after growing up in staid, very Anglo Williamsburg. I remember when we took Tim and Jonathan to Tres Reyes in Jerez many years ago we experienced the same variety of reactions from the crowd that occur today. We saw one of those aggressive mothers who pushed aside a little boy as she grabbed one of the soccer balls that were being distributed! And there was also a similar caring mother who looked out for all the children in her area. Times never change.

Last night we went to the legendary Tres Reyes (Three Kings) parade in Jerez. It far surpassed all of our expectations! It began with the three kings, elaborately costumed and on horseback, and was followed by bands of all sorts, bagpipers, real camels (frothy and indignant), various costumed groups of knights, moors, Africans, Romans.

And then there were the candy barges. Costumed children would ride by on spectacular floats, and would fling hard candies (caramelos) at the crowd. We soon saw why people brought umbrellas and turned them upside down. After a few of these hurlings, I learned to cover my head because hard candies on the head hurt! Ben was in all of his glory, scrambling under feet to gather up free candy.

I was conflicted – the polite mid-westerner part of me, who never wants to push or shove, was quickly over-powered by the fierce mother who doesn’t want her children to be lost in the crowd or trampled under feet or floats! Sam was both appalled and intrigued by the mother next to him who actually shoved him out of the way to make room for her 8 year old son.

There was another mom right next to us, who was very carefully shepherding all the children, including ours, each time the floats came by, which was very nice. I think there was a collective maternal holding of the breath each time a candy barge came by! But there were walkers posted at each of the corners to make sure kids were out of the way. I also didn’t mention that the parade was so long that Sam was begging to go by the end! Ben, of course, wouldn’t leave if there was a possibility of even one more caramelo to be had. I really have never seen, in person, a parade of that quality — wow! I mean guao! (Is that how you spell it?)