San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Thousands celebrate the Year of the Dragon in Costa Rica

Thousands of Costa Ricans enjoyed a gigantic meal of Cantonese fried rice to kick off the Year of the Dragon on Monday in Costa Rica’s growing Chinatown district in downtown San José.

Under the sun and on open streets, families formed large lines to try the famous Chinese dish at the gathering in front of the capital’s La Soledad Church. Thirty chefs cooked 300 kilos of rice, 150 kilos of chicken and 70 kilos of ham, among other ingredients, in a giant wok.

“We want to highlight Chinese culture,” said San José Mayor Johnny Araya to a local TV station.

Some 7,000 people attended the event, according to organizers, which included the San José Municipality and the Chinese Embassy. The Chinese community in Costa Rica celebrated this Monday the arrival of the Chinese New Year, which is dedicated to the dragon, one of the animals most respected in the culture.

During a banquet, Chinese residents of Costa Rica performed traditional dances with bright pink fans and gave kung fu demonstrations. China and Costa Rica strengthened their relationship when the countries established diplomatic ties after Costa Rican ex-President Oscar Arias broke off ties with Taiwan in June 2007.

China has developed a wide program of cooperation with Costa Rica that includes the construction of a $100 million National Stadium inaugurated last March. China is also helping fund other infrastructure projects, including the renovation of a petroleum processing plant on the Caribbean coast.

Araya, who visited Beijing recently, arranged $1.5 million to transform several blocks of San José into an artery typical of Chinatown. The work will be completed by Chinese artisans.

Year of the Dragon 2

Thirty local chefs cooked up 300 kilograms of Cantonese fried rice. Free plates of the rice dish were given out to thousands at the Chinese New Year celebration.

Alberto Font

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