U.S. expats toast Independence Day in Costa Rica with 8 a.m. beer

July 3, 2009

A thousand miles from the shores of the United States and three months into the rainy season didn´t hamper the Independence Day celebration for many U.S. expatriates living here.

Beer flowed freely and hotdogs were served in sets of two or three as U.S. citizens gobbled up anything that would remind them of 4th of July.

Mechanical bull-riding, square dancing, volleyball and a rock band grabbed the attention of the hundreds of guests for the four-hour event, beginning at 8 a.m. Friday.

An array of nonprofits and businesses arranged booths on the grounds of the Cervecería de Costa Rica, the national brewery, and interspersed between them were food stands and children´s games.

People walked around with U.S. flags hanging out of their bags, holding the hands of their kids, who were dressed in red, white and blue and wearing face paint.

“This isn´t so much of a formal, rehearsed national event,” said Peter Brennan, chargé d´affaires at the U.S. Embassy. “It´s really a party for everyone…a reminder of the good, ole fashioned 4th of July.”

The July 4 festivities (held on July 3) weren´t without a touch of historical context and recognition for veterans, as event planners complemented the festivities with a flag raising ceremony, the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance.

“I looked out in the crowd and I noticed that people really felt emotional when the flag was taken up. They remember. They remember where our liberty and where our freedom came from. And I think it is very important,” said Susan Tessem, American Colony Committee president, relating her favorite part of the day.

The only thing missing were the fireworks.

Maybe next year, some event organizers said, as it will be the 50th Independence Day event in Costa Rica for United States citizens.

Just as the celebration was nearing its noontime end, the rain started to break loose from the clouds; and the blue, red and white-dressed patriots disappeared into the crowds of San José.

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