Though many United States citizens in Costa Rica choose to be enveloped by the Spanish language and gallo pinto, July 4 is a day for the Star Spangled Banner, relay races and square dancing.
Annually, the members of the American Colony Committee have taken upon themselves to throw a celebration for U.S. Independence Day.
“Come on down, you can get beer and a hot dog by 9 a.m.,” said Susan Tessem, honorary chairwoman for the committee. “This celebration is to treat, with both respect and fun, what the Fourth of July is all about.”
The picnic-style event begins at 9 a.m. and goes to 1 p.m. An official ceremony takes place at 11 a.m. This includes a raising of the flag by the U.S. Marine Corps, singing of the Star Spangled Banner and speeches by U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew and American Colony Committee President Lynda Solar.
“It’s the mission of the American Colony Committee to observe the United States Declaration of Independence, American customs and traditions,” Solar said. “It’s also that we are proud to be Americans and those of us living in Costa Rica continue that pride by celebrating here.”
After a year’s hiatus from the traditional site, the celebration will again be held at the Cervecería Costa Rica grounds in Alajuela, northwest of San José. Last year, funding restrictions caused the event to be hosted in the southwestern suburb of Escazú. Before Sept. 11, 2001, a smaller Fourth of July party took place on the grounds of the U.S. ambassador’s residence. The American Colony Committee has organized the celebration for 51 years.
Guests are encouraged to gorge themselves on as much cotton candy, hot dogs, bagels, popcorn and beer as they can muster. In past July 4 celebrations nearly 4,000 people have attended.
There will also be children and adult games, a carousel and a square dancing performance. Two rock bands set up next to the beer garden will play throughout the day.
“Some kids who attend have never seen a Fourth of July in the U.S.,” Tessem said. “People have even said the celebration here is better because we have it all, and we really want it to be special.”
Entrance is $10 for adults and $6 for kids. U.S. residents with passports are allowed to bring one Costa Rican guest.
No parking is allowed on the Cervecería grounds, and cars should be parked at the old Expomóvil parking lot next to Avis Rent-a-Car. Parking is free, as is the shuttle that will be taking guests back and forth from the lot to the Cervecería.
To help curb drunk driving and underage drinking, security will be checking IDs at beer stands.
Correction: The original story spelled Susan Tessem’s name incorrectly.