Wednesday’s coronation of kings and queens and the burning of “Mal Humor” precedes Friday’s annual Carnaval parade in Mérida. Photo: Ayuntamiento

Mérida, Yucatán —Plaza Carnaval has been whipped into shape, in time for numerous big events.

The largest of several parades, at the fairgrounds in the city’s outskirts, begins 8 p.m. Friday. It was largely ousted from the Centro years ago when organizers struggled with crowd chaos.

The exception is today (Thursday) at 4 p.m., when the traditional children’s parade starts at the Municipal Palace, winding its way toward Parque Santa Lucia. More than 600 kids are expected to participate.

Now the city has to work harder to motivate a potential audience to make the trek to the fairgrounds, even offering free transportation. There will be more musical shows, new activities and 15 floats.

The Dragons of Xalapa marching band will join celebrities Ariadne Díaz and Gabriel Soto on Friday, with other events on the schedule through Tuesday.

Interim mayor María Fritz Sierra led a press tour of the Xmatkuil fairgrounds, which have been fumigated, cleaned and painted. Special accommodations have been built for the elderly or disabled.

At Plaza Zamná, the large esplanade at the entrance to Plaza Carnaval, visitors will be greeted by stilt walkers and batucadas (percussionists). On the sides there will be activities for the little ones. Hot air balloons will be tethered nearby for souvenir photos.

The concerts will be longer, with more musical acts, the city promises.

Even free wifi zones are being installed.

Work at the fairgrounds began about a month ago with 250 workers. During Carnaval, 600 people in two shifts who will be responsible for keeping the facilities clean and 400 drums for garbage are distributed throughout the plaza.

For safety, 450 police officers and 350 from the municipal force will be on site.

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