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Monday, December 19, 2011

Atenas Festival de la Luz

The yearly Atenas Festival of the Lights was held on Saturday, December 17. This is part of the Christmas celebrations.

We went with two other couples and scored a table at Gelly's restaurant, newly renovated and beside the central park. We were right on the parade route and our server said we were welcome to occupy the table for the whole evening. As is usual in Costa Rica, the restaurant was open on three sides. The early evening was balmy and breezy, perfect for a parade.

We all ordered one of the specials on offer -  one or two burritos with greens, or lasagna with greens, and this included soda or iced tea. Then we had to try their gelato - lots of flavors and very good. Couldn't resist having lattes, capachinos and espresso and it was the strongest, most intense espresso I have ever had. The amount in the small espresso cup was more than enough for me. Lance loved it - I think he had about three and, hence, didn't fall asleep until about three (a.m.)  Final total for six people with plenty to eat and drink: 15,000 colones or $30 CAD, and that included a tip.

The two burrito option.


We had a blast that night. Watched the sun set and the activities in the park across from us. There were people selling fresh cooked BBQ, cotton candy, light sticks and so on. The parade started a bit late (natch) but who cares. It was December 17th and here we were sitting in a fantastic tropical setting in a wonderful small town and being part of everything around us.

Our view of the central park, dusk, before the parade started.
Lance surprised me with a gift of a star shaped light stick that he bought from a vendor! He knows I like that wacky stuff and it was a great hit, and not only with me but with one of our dinner companions (unnamed).

The parade consisted of different lighted floats and school marching bands. There were bands from Atenas, Orotina, Esparza and more. They were all being judged too - the judges' stand was very close to us. The kids in these marching bands are just incredible. We live close to a private school that has a marching band and when a festival is near, these kids practice hard and still do their schoolwork.

One of the floats


All the bands were great - some were small, some were bigger - but they all had their own flair, their own costumes and they all deserved a ribbon. In between the floats and the bands we saw Santa Claus (several times); Mary holding Baby Jesus and riding on a very calm horse led by Joseph and followed by the Wise Men; people throwing candies into the crowds .....

We all agreed that the very best marching band was an eclectric group that seemed to meld hip hop with ... I don't know what ... but when they set off fireworks from the ends of the glockenspiels (is that what those are?) the crowds went crazy.

Some of the bands featured drummers twirling those big, huge drums (bass drums?) around and around by the straps during part of their march.

The big finale at the end of the evening was the fireworks display, set off at the side of the Catholic church which thankfully did not burn down. A good time was had by all!

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