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Pictures from Costa Rican Independence day celebrations, September 15, 2006

In Costa Rica Independence Day, September 15th is very important. This day marks the day that word was received from Guatemala by a runner with a torch, that in fact independence was granted (or won) from Spain. In order to get the news to Costa Rica a "runner" or set of runners were sent from Guatemala with a hand held torch in order to notify all Central American countries that they were free of Spanish rule. In Costa Rica, the date is celebrated in many ways. One of which is a symbolic "runner" who carries a lit torch from Guatemala all the way to Costa Rica. From this one main torch Costa Rican schools organize groups of students to light another torch from the main one and then run this torch to each school in Costa Rica. On the 14th, during the day you can see groups of students placed along the road from the main highway up to their individual schools carrying a torch lit from the main torch, traveling to Cartago which at the time of independence was the capital of Costa Rica. On the 15th of September each town has its own celebration for independence. Typically the main celebration is each school participating together to make a parade in the morning. Any resident of Costa Rica can tell you that all throughout August and early September the sound of drums can be heard during the day as the individual schools practice their routines in anticipation of the parade. One wonders why all this practice? Well once you actually see the parade and hear the coordination and the sweat produced by those kids who handle the big drums you can see that in fact much practice and muscle toning and overall coordination is needed in order to be able to produce the sound and movement for the actual day of the parade. We wish we could produce the sounds these bands produce. It is very emotional. In addition to the bands featuring mostly drums and cymbals, many schools (those that can afford it) also offer precision dancing teams and also involve the youngest children in some way. Each school's group is preceded by its banner hung by the school's honor students. While the government has stated that no school should have groups of young women in mini-skirts in the parade it seems that no school pays attention to this rule. This violation of the rule probably helps account for increased attendance at the parades by young men. Although there seems to be total respect and little if any catcalls by macho young Costa Rican males who normally would be very vocal in their affection. After the parade, the groups make their way to the local soccer field where presentations are made for best band, best outfits, most precision in movements etc. Here we give you a few photos of the action. Note that all age groups are represented. Also note that unfortunately not all schools have the resources to enter children in the parades. The government does not have the funds to purchase outfits, or instruments or banners for the schools. Therefore poor schools simply can not participate.

Costa rican independence day parade photos
Costa rican girls in native clothing
Costa rican independence day parade children marching
Costa rican young drummer in independence day parade
Costa rican young kids marching in parade
Costa rican young majorette in independence day parade
Costa rican independence day parade little girl
Costa rican independence day parade float
Costa rican independence day parade showing school banner and flags
Costa rican independence
Costa rican independence day parade high school group
Costa rican independence day high school group
Costa rican independence day parade main street view
Costa rican independence day
Left out of the parade

This kid is named Marvin. Marvin lives in a government provided housing project (with funds provided in large part by a Canadian charity. Thanks Canucks!) with his single mother and younger brother Jafet. I can assure you that their life is much better having this home compared to where they lived before. He is a good kid who is very smart however has the goal of leaving school and working for his father in another part of the country. This work would be in a sawmill. Without an advanced (at least high school) education young Costa Ricans really have little chance to escape poverty. Marvin would love to be able to be in a band next year. And if he could be, who knows, he may even stay in school like his mother would like him to. I sat near Marvin during the parade and felt very sad that he saw friends going by in nice band uniforms with instruments from other schools while he had nothing. Nor his other 95 friends in the school he attends. Let's work together to help assure that this inequality does not continue.

Well something was done to help alleviate this inequality. Click Here

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