?Costa Rica? ??Presente!!

My take on the unknown yearly festival

By A.M. Herrera
Published on LatinoLA: August 14, 2003

?Costa Rica? ??Presente!!

Although natively born in East L.A. and of full 100% Costa Rican descent due to the instilling of wonderful parents, I had heard of an event that celebrated my culture. Never having the opportunity to attend, the pleasure of experiencing the 30th Year Celebration of the Costa Rican Catholic religious acclamade to the "Virgen de Los Angeles" and Costa Rican "reason-for-a-Pachanga-at-the-Park" occured Sunday August 3.

Traveling a little under an hour with a "compatriota" amiga to Chino, California where apparently the hidden secret of this celebration occured yearly, I was overwhelmed with pride for my roots. The announcement of this event seemed to only occur by word of mouth however. If interest is insistent and persistent, payment of information is existent!

Upon my arrival to this Costa Rican festival at El Prado Park in Chino, parking seemed to be sparse and free parking spaces seeming more so quite limited. We, however got lucky and parked in an awesome spot close to mi "gente." The Costa Rican bumper stickers, personalized license plates, and ethnic vibe as well as red, blue and white colored flags seemed to shower the hot sunny park with a cool, smiling breeze, allowing one to feel part of the yearly ritual and enjoy the walk to the festivities amongst the friendly ticos who felt almost-like "familia."

The park was filled with the smells of traditional food and friendly Costa Rican people, including many families picnicking and sharing while enjoying the presence of the country's favorite pasttime sport: Soccer. The food was a mixture of that from all over the country ... Caribbean cuisine for the Caribbean patriotic ticos, and traditional for the everyday San Jose Costa Rican.

Music was not lacking as the tunes of an uknown radio sent out greetings live via radio transmission as were the DJs motivating all Ticos to dance in the grass with anyone who would be willing to join in the over crowd of more than 50 The people represented Costa Rica as if they were celebrating in a plaza in any part of Costa Rica.

Soccer being a main pasttime was a major part of this festival, setting the vibe for a Sunday "mejenga" ("mejenga" meaning make-shift Sunday soccer game amongst friends). For moments, memories and the ambience gave me the feeling I could have been where I had once enjoyed living in my younger youth, among the many amazing locations that Costa Rica possesses.

Business networking also was present for the Costa Rican community entrepeneurs. Many, amongst the friendly "compatriotas" pushed business cards and flyers were not lacking for info regarding shipping, purchasing homes and travel info for all within a Costa Rican community of those living in California.

The only missing piece I felt was that for many other Californian Costa Ricans, their presence was missing due to the lack of knowledge of this yearly "by word of mouth only " hidden secret.

Thus, written now is my endeavor to write a small piece to instill and hopefully spread the word to other Costa Ricans and anyone else who would love to partake in the Costa Rican community Californian festival which takes place the first Sunday in August of every year - Dia de la Virgen de Los Angeles.

?Pura Vida Ticos!

About A.M. Herrera:
A.M Herrera is a U.S. born Latina of 100% Costa Rican descent.

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