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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Independence Day, Costa Rican style!

Yesterday’s Independence Day celebration here in Atenas was quite the festive affair, with a colorful parade, food vendors in the park and hundreds of local residents in attendance. The parade contingents were made up almost entirely of children with every local school represented by large groups of flag-carrying honor guards toting the Costa Rican red, white and blue flag, led by whistling drum majorettes, followed by enthusiastic drum corps whose percussive rhythms pretty much drowned out the xylophone players. The few adults in the procession were kept busy, walking backwards, trying to direct the drummers to stay on beat or, perhaps more importantly, to stop drumming when they were supposed to. One man in particular seemed to have some difficulty keeping the attention of his drum squad, who continued their cadence long after he had apparently given the signal to stop. But at least they kept the beat!
         As each group circled the Parque Central and approached the city administrative building, a woman announcer called out the school name and the participants performed some choreographed flag routine for the benefit of city officials seated on the porch, always to the thunderous beat of abundant snare and bass drums.
         In what must be a Costa Rican tradition that we are yet to learn about, many of the children sported hand-painted masks and even full costumes representative of some of the wildlife in this ecologically rich country. Toucans, jaguars, iguanas and caterpillars marched down the road as well as two-legged flowers and other living greenery, each group proudly displaying a sign announcing their school's name.
         Obviously the crowd was full of appreciative parents and siblings, proud grandparents and other relatives who were there to cheer the youngsters on. Even the kindergarteners got in the act, riding along in their own colorful float. The cutest members of the audience were the small fry dressed up in traditional Tico garb of blue jeans, white shirt, red bandanna and canvas hat or vibrant full skirts and beribboned blouses. Layne and I got in the spirit wearing red shirts and carrying small Costa Rican flags, mine planted in my ponytail!
       Here are a few photos to give you a bit of the flavor of the day. Feliz Dia de Independencia!
(Remember, you can always click on the photo to enlarge it.


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