The annual festival for Colombia’s third-largest city will not include the traditional horse parade, local media reported Wednesday
The Cali Mayor’s Office, along with Corfecali, the entity responsible for organizing the event, said that concerns related to excessive drinking and animal abuse were responsible for the decision, which was announced Tuesday in the western Colombian city.
“Despite the improvements that have been implemented there are inconveniences that occur in terms of security and mobility,” Latorre said according to Cali’s El Pais newspaper.
In May, Colombia’s second largest city, Medellin, issued a similar verdict excluding the traditional “cabalgata,” or horse parade, from the iconic Flower Festival on the same grounds.
Held each year in late December, the Cali Festival has traditionally opened with a mounted parade, according to the national El Tiempo newspaper. In the past, the event has witnessed as many as 3,000 horse riders and almost one million spectators crowding the three-mile route, and last year, organizers tried moving the parade to the end of the Cali Festival, in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the chaos of abandoned horses and drunken horsemen in the the streets.
Corfecali Director Luz Adriana Latorre, indicated that the decision to eliminate the parade was made after five months of intense analysis of the event in a joint effort between officials of the event and Corfecail, according to Bucaramanga’s Vanguardia newspaper.
Latorre disclosed that the groups analyzed past versions of the fair where problems had been presented with the procession. Despite various changes to the procession program that included reducing the original parade route and the number of participating horses, as well as improving the conditions for the animals, problems surrounding these issues still persisted.
Cali Mayor Rodrigo Guerrero said that the current decision only pertained to this year’s fair, reported El Tiempo, and that the final decision was taken after close study. “Corfecali has been very serious and meticulous in their analysis,” Guerrero said. “This decision is not improvised, we delayed it because we were studying what was best for the city.”
Corefecali also announced that they were currently studying the implementation of an alternative event to replace the horse parade. The event might take the form of a sporting event such as a duathlon or a cultural event with a Pacific theme, El Pais reported.
The announcement to cancel the parade was met with positive responses from the citizens of Cali, evident throughout social media posts on Twitter and other online outlets, Vanguardia reported. The feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of the cancellation of the parade, as many residents of the city had witnessed for years the general disorder, excessive drinking, and abuse of the participating animals throughout the event.
In last year’s parade, local resident Paola Salazar was killed when she fell from her horse during the procession, reported El Tiempo in 2013. This event served as a catalyst for local action surrounding the decision to eliminate the parade for the 2014 version of the festival, reported the same source.
“Fewer dead horses, drug dealers, and a cleaner city,” tweeted one Cali resident on Tuesday according to Vanguardia.