(qCOSTARICA) By Michael Miller in San Jose – There is always something happening in the Plaza de la Cultura. This is the most popular gathering place in Downtown San José, Costa Rica, next to the venerable National Theater.
And this weekend was no exception. This past Sunday, the country’s firemen (or “bomberos”) celebrated their 150th anniversary.
On display in the Plaza were two antique fire trucks, the oldest one was made in 1910. In addition, there were modern fire trucks from different Costa Rican cities, parked in formation at the edge of the Plaza.
There were two bandstands erected, one for musical acts and one for the various dignitaries attending the event. The most popular musical group to perform was the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. This were a group of bagpipers and drummers, flown in for the occasion, from the New York City Fire Department.
They dazzled the Ticos by performing in their Irish kilts.
A crowd of thousands watched as a priest gave the benediction. He then walked through the crowd, along with an alter boy carrying holy water. The priest dipped a scepter into the holy water and blessed each of fire engines.
When the blessings were completed, the fire trucks all gave a salute by letting loose with their sirens simultaneously, and by spraying a long continuous blast of water into the air. The crowd, especially the children, loved it.
When the celebration ended, the dignitaries were led to a tent where they were given a piece of a huge birthday cake. The crowd was then invited in to share a piece of the cake. They spent the rest of the afternoon getting pictures of the fire trucks and mingling with the hundreds of fire fighters attending the event.
Michael Miller is the author of the first and only guide book that focuses on Downtown San José, titled: The Real San José.