The ‘secret’ reception for the Three Kings was not secret. Valencians are used to going to the Town Hall square on the afternoon of the 5th to see Their Majesties, and not even the pandemic prevented crowds from gathering in the square yesterday, to the point that the official broadcast through À Punt twice asked the residents not to come to the Town Hall. Shortly after, criticism from all sides came out, blaming the celebration of the event. This was the case of the vice-presidents Mónica Oltra and Rubén Martínez Dalmau, as well as the same health minister, Ana Barceló.
The latter said on social networks when commenting on a photograph of the crowd that “this image and its consequences were avoidable if the Health recommendations had been complied with. The concentration of people had to be avoided at all costs. Regrettable”. To which Oltra replied with a reproach: “Yes, pitiful. And also avoidable, Councillor”adding a fragment of the regulation that allowed for static riding.
The images that were seen on television (not even the press could enter the City Hall) were impressive, especially because the reception was held at the same time that Health gave the new data of positive by Covid-19 and deaths in the Comunitat, data, incidentally, a record. While the Generalitat was lamenting 85 new deaths, King Balthazar was greeting from his ‘float’ (a double-decker bus hired under a minor contract, like those of his two companions, awarded yesterday) and a crowd was shouting to welcome him from the square.
These images created a lot of unrest in the government team, where there were different opinions about how to celebrate the reception of the Magi. It was not considered to close the whole enclave because it was one of the most important days for the commerce of the city centre and forced the diversion of several TMS lines.
In fact, in various meetings held these days at the Town Hall, there was a lot of insistence on a ‘discreet’ reception. It was even suggested that the Three Kings should dress inside the town hall building to avoid the arrival and reception of the mayor, but the idea was rejected. The tour was secret, but after the event it became known that Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar visited the local police, the fire department, the cleaning service and the staff of the Malvarrosa Social Services Centre. There were also doubts as to whether it was wise to have what in the end were going to be understood as three ‘floats’ travelling around the city, but in the end it was worth the opinion of the Department of Festive Culture, Carlos Galiana. The secret, of course, was complicated to maintain with a festooned Town Hall and a police cordon that barely cut the square in front of the balcony. In addition, the reception at seven o’clock in the evening in the Crystal Room was on the public agenda.
Even the first vice president of the Council, Monica Oltra, called what happened yesterday in Valencia “incomprehensible”. In response to a tweet from the deputy Manolo Mata in which he indicated that the best thing was to “shut up”, Oltra replied: “Well, let’s not shut up. This is incomprehensible! We cannot remain silent in the serious situation we are in”. The anger at the Botanist was palpable. The second vice-president, Rubén Martínez Dalmau, went further than Oltra: “Governments, all of them, must protect people, particularly in the worst pandemic we have suffered”. «We need to find out if Valencia City Council has made any unfortunate decisions and ask for explanations and responsibilities if necessary,” said the vice president.
The ‘parade’, therefore, was clearly out of the hands of the mayor Ribó, who organized a reduced event in the Crystal Room with the presence of the Fallera mayor child, Carla García, his court of honor, the deputy mayors Sandra Gómez and Sergi Campillo; the councillor for Festive Culture, Carlos Galiana; the spokesmen for Citizens and Vox; and the councillor of the popular municipal group Santiago Ballester.