Date Changes for Fourth of July Celebrations

June 4, 2004

ONLY one major change marks this year’s U.S.Independence Day celebration in Costa Rica – it won’t beheld on the Fourth of July.The celebration, normally held July 4 at CerveceríaCosta Rica by the all-volunteer American Colony, isinstead scheduled for Saturday, July 3, since July 4 falls ona Sunday this year.“The recreational areas on the weekends are only for theCervecería’s employees and they did not want to sacrificeSunday this year because they are trying to keep up moralewith the employees and we applaud that,” said MiliMembreño, the secretary of the colony’s board of directors.The event, which draws a crowd of about 5,000, takestwo days to set up. The size of the crowd is bigger thanwhat Cervecería Costa Rica is used to.“THEIR events are much smaller and they’re usuallyonly held for the employees,” Membreño said. “They dothis as an in-kind donation to us – they don’t charge us. Sowe are very privileged. We are very lucky.”There is no rain date planned, instead the event (whichhas been held for more than 40 years) is held 8 a.m. to noonto avoid the afternoon showers. The rain has held off allfour years that the event has been held at the Cerveceríainstead of the U.S. Ambassador’s residence. But because ofthe increased possibility of rain during this time of year,there will be no fireworks display.“At the (ambassador’s) residence, we had some yearswhere at 11:30 a.m. it would start raining and we had peopleliterally up to their ankles in mud because it had beenraining so much,” Membreño said.ALTHOUGH it has yet to rain at the new venue, therewill be tents for shelter just in case.There will also be clowns, live music, games and contestsfor kids and adults, square dancing, cotton candy, amechanical bull, carousels and other rides, volleyball, specialtycoffees and teas, beer, sodas and thousands of hotdogs– all free for U.S. citizens.“We try to keep it as muchUnited States-oriented as wecan,” Membreño said. In fact,they even import candy, balloonsand the game prizes from there.SOME of the food and servicesat the event are bought bythe American Colony throughdonations, but the majority isdonated by corporations. And incase you leave your red, whiteand blue clothes at home, theorganization will also sell souvenirt-shirts at the celebrations.A flag ceremony and a commemorationof Independence Daywith the Pledge of Allegiance andthe singing of the National Anthemwill round out the day’s activities.“That’s the purpose of it all,really,” Manners said. “To haveeveryone get together and celebratethe independence of theUnited States and to meet otherAmericans abroad.”ONLY U.S. citizens and their immediate family areallowed into the free celebration. Proof of citizenship, likea passport or birth certificate, will be necessary at theentrance. Unfortunately, that means no nannies, cousins, orgirlfriends and boyfriends.“Every year we have to turn people away because theyare not a citizen or an immediate family member of a citizenand we hate turning people away,” said SpencerManners, president of the American Colony.Security is an issue say organizers, and the Cervecería’sgrounds will be guarded by several different security guardcompanies – the Cervecería’s guards, the Costa RicanRural Guard, a private security group contracted by theAmerican Colony and the U.S. Embassy’s security all pitchin.“After 9/11 we definitely upgraded our security, but notto the extent to scare anyone,” Membreño said. “We aredefinitely security conscious and we coordinate with theU.S. Embassy’s security personnel. They come out there afew times before the picnic and they give us indicators asto where we should focus our efforts.”BECAUSE of the security increase, the Río Segundoentrance will be closed and the only open entrance will befrom the main highway between San José and the JuanSantamaria Airport..“We always have a lot of problems with that and a lotof arguments with people who want to enter through theback way, but it’s for their own security,” Membreño said.For more info or to volunteer at the event, call 233-3296 or e-mail american_colony@yahoo.com.

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