An Immense Line Outside Jalisco Park Marks its Reopening Day in Havana
“We are going to spend hours here to get in,” grumbled a grandmother with two grandchildren who, before nine in the morning this Saturday, was in the long line to enter the Jalisco Park, in Havana’s El Vedado district.
Finally, the recreational center – which went from state to private management – ??opened its doors after months of repairs and after its planned reopening, scheduled for July 26, was frustrated.<
Entire families, parents with children and large groups swelled the line that far exceeded the number of people that could fit in the premises, located at the corner of 23rd and 18th streets. “We got in line at seven and that is why we are among the first but now a school bus arrived with a lot of kids. There are more people here than in line at the Plaza de Carlos III market,” a father with seven-year-old twins told 14ymedio .
A huge puddle of sewage covered part of the street around the corner and was the focus of parental warnings. “Dayron, be careful, don’t step foot in there, that water is filthy!” a mother yelled at a restless child who was jumping from the sidewalk trying to reach the area of ??asphalt that was dry. A mask ended up floating in the puddle a few minutes later.
The crying of several children, tired by the wait and the heat that was already beginning, was part of the soundtrack around Jalisco. On the other side of the fence that surrounds the park, the new inflatable attractions were ready early and a group of employees, all dressed completely in black, organized the last details before the first group of customers entered.
“I hope the power doesn’t go out because those devices need to have the air compressor turned on for them to work, if the power goes out everything is messed up,” feared a grandfather who was accompanying his granddaughter. “Shee hasn’t been able to go anywhere so far on vacation because everything is too far or too expensive, this is the first outing we’ve done since school ended,” he explained to this newspaper.
After 9:05 am, the doors of Jalisco Park had not opened and people continued to arrive. Several shared taxis stopped near the park and practically all the passengers got out and went to the line. “If this doesn’t end in a fight today it will be a miracle,” predicted a young woman with a two-year-old child in her arms.
Sitting on the sidewalk curb some children sheltered from the sun that was already beginning to sting and waited to enter Jalisco. Most of these minors did not know the previous format of the recreation center with attractions such as a horse merry-go-round, a small roller coaster, some boats that circled in a tiny pond and a star or Ferris wheel.
Through the gate and the fence, now freshly painted in bright colors, several children kept looking at the new games decorated with motifs of the popular children’s character Elpidio Valdés. Around 9:20 in the morning the first group finally passed and an employee photographed the first girl who entered the gate. By that time the line was already made up of more than 200 people.
“Smoking is prohibited in the park so as not to affect the inflatable devices!” Another employee clarified to everyone who was entering. The first customers managed to get through in an orderly fashion, thanks to security staff organizing the front of the line, though towards the middle and end the line seemed more like a disorganized mound than a line.
Wearing an orange pullover, one of the heads of the private cooperative that manages Jalisco Park went to the line and asked for discipline within the premises. The man detailed the mechanism to access the attractions. Upon entering, you must buy some plastic tokens. A green one allows you to get a package of popcorn, a blue one for the inflatables and the red one for the more complex attractions, such as an electric bull and some tiny carousels.
The school bus ended up leaving with all its passengers, frustrated by the wait and aware that “today there is no getting in,” according to the mother of one of the children who came in the vehicle from another Havana municipality.
By 10:00 in the morning, the line had grown so long outside Jalisco Park that it crossed the street and reached the wall of the Colón Cemetery. Sitting or leaning on the projections of the wall of the necropolis, several parents with their children waited to access the newly opened park, the only children’s recreation center for several kilometers around.