San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Día del Niño Celebrates Children

MANY young children throughout Costa Rica will celebrate Día del Niño (Children’s Day) attending grand parties, eating treats, making craft items or taking special trips. But for about 60 children and teenagers at the Arthur Gough Orphanage, Día del Niño isn’t just another holiday – it will be one of the highlights of their year.Procter & Gamble Costa Rica, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Jones Lang LaSalle teamed up to make this Día del Niño special for the orphaned children at the facility in Río Oro de Santa Ana, southwest of San José. With games, cotton candy, popcorn, dancing, crafts and a storyteller, the day will be action-packed for the orphans, some of whom are mentally or physically disabled. But perhaps the most important gift the children will receive is the one-on one attention from an employee from one of the sponsoring companies.“This type of activity represents an opportunity to involve our employees through different volunteering options by which they can give back to the community and help improve the quality of life of the communities in which we operate,” said Viviana Jiménez, spokeswoman at P&G Costa Rica. “In this way, we are being part of the solution rather than the problem.”COSTA Rica, which celebrates Día del Niño Sept. 9, isn’t alone in honoring its youth. Children’s Day originated in 1924 as a United Nations (then the League of Nations) international celebration to protect the rights of children. Today, more than 18 countries – including the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico – celebrate this special day on different dates throughout the year, according to the Children’s Day Corporation based in Colombia.While originally a day to draw attention to children’s rights, the celebrations have grown commercially here in recent years – even local Hallmark stores are displaying advertisements for the holiday.For Cindy Jüttner, owner of FT Kids – a business providing all services needed to throw a children’s party – Día del Niño is as busy as Christmas or year-end parties.“It is one of the peaks. Now that Día del Niño is on a Friday, we have activities booked the Saturday before until the Sunday after,” Jüttner said, adding that she is even planning a party as far away as Liberia, capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste.FOR those not attending private parties, several Día del Niño events are open to the public.As expected, the Children’s Museum in San José is planning one of the biggest affairs in celebration of the holiday. The museum is transforming itself into the “capital of games and toys” in a three-day party starting Sept. 9 called “Toy Castle” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Touted as an unprecedented congregation of playthings, the event will allow children to have fun with toys and even construct their own. There will also be an electronic simulator that will recreate the feeling of driving a car or snow skiing.In addition to the enormous amount of toys available each day, clowns, magicians and even street-circus acrobatics will provide entertainment. For more information, call the museum at 258-4929 or visitÍA del Niño celebrations will come a bit early at INBioparque in Heredia, north of San José. On Sunday at 10 a.m., the park will hold a Festival of Creative People, at which children will express their love of nature through song, dance, writing or playing an instrument. Participants will receive a surprise as well as a certificate.The day will continue with various activities including a concert by Marifer. To sign up for the festival, call 507-8276 in advance. There is no entrance cost to children participating in the festival, only those accompanying them.A number of Costa Rican children’s organizations are sponsoring a free party for children Sept. 7-8, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the National Cultural Center (CENAC) in San José. For more information, call 221-2154.For those wanting to do something special with a child on Día del Niño, various family-oriented activities will be held that weekend.An “Alice in Wonderland” puppet show will be performed every Sunday this month at the Universidad Nacional in Heredia at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Atahualpa del Cioppo Theater. Call 253-6001 for more information.ON Sunday, the Gold Museum in San José will host the inauguration of its colorful Central American Masks exhibit. On the agenda are a mascarada (masked parade), a demonstration by mask craftsmen and a mask-making workshop for children. For information, call 243-4202.The Simón Bolívar Zoo will hold workshops for the entire family Sept. 10 for a small fee. Children and adults can learn how to make and maintain a bonsai plant, play detective in the zoo or create faroles (lanterns that children traditionally make for Costa Rican celebrations). The bonsai and faroles programs are from 9 a.m. to noon and require reservations at 256-0012. The zoo detective game begins at 10 a.m.For those wanting to avoid crowds, Día del Niño can be as simple as spending a little extra time with your children.“I think Día del Niño should be about the children and making it a day that they can look back on as a special time,” said Judi Voorhees, a mother of two young kids in the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser. Her celebration plans include playing in the park and baking sugar cookies with her youngsters – both activities the children love.

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