San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinese Float Steals Show at Festival de la Luz

The Chinese float stole the show at San José’s annual Christmas parade last Saturday.

The Chinese entourage took center stage at the Costa Rican Festival of Lights.Many spectators’ jaws dropped while the glowing red and gold dragon float and human-controlled serpentine creatures slithered by, like a Chinese New Year’s celebration.

The troupe won the top prizes for “brightest” and “most original” float, with 9.3 points out of 10.

On the Chinese float were the words Viva la Amistad China-Costa Rica, or “Long Live Chinese-Costa Rican Friendship,” reminding native festival goers of their government’s historic crossover in June, which ended diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of bridge-building with China (TT, June 8).

However, San José’s 11th Festival of Lights once again showed that Ticos, too, can put on an impressive Christmas street party, with 15 floats and almost as many marching bands crawling along Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda at blaring decibels, but at a slug-like pace.

Equally impressive was the crowd’s stamina. Many families showed up in the morning to hold a choice spot. The parade finally started at 6:20 p.m. in a spat of rain and amid some 1,500 police, Red Cross and other workers. It finished around midnight.

Highlights included the bands’ skillful drumming with twirling sticks, and horn sections that blasted songs ranging from traditional Christmas fare to U.S. band Black Eyed Peas’ hip-hop craze “Don’t Phunk with My Heart.”


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