Downtown still is the Christmas hub in San José

Policeman surveys afternoon crowd near Mercado Central.

Security officials have erected two towers to let policemen keep an eye on holiday crowds. They are in Avenida Central’s pedestrian mall.

The central business district is still a vital economic center for the central canton of San José. Although there are a handful of malls surrounding the central city, working-class Ticos still shop downtown.

They will be rewarded tonight with the 5:30 p.m. kickoff of the municipality’s Avenidazo, a mixture of music and events to keep the shoppers coming. The event today is called Navidad en San José and features an 80-piece orchestra and two choruses. The program includes such favorites as “Jingle Bells,” Spanish versions of popular English carols like “Noche de paz,” Latin hymns like “Adeste Fideles” and purely Spanish Christmas songs like the Argentine “Huachi torito.”

There always are police reinforcements at Christmas. Thanks to the Christmas bonus or aguinaldo, shoppers are heavy with cash. But usually there are few serious crimes and not many thefts. The security forces hope to continue that tradition this year.

Coming up Saturday is the Festival de la Luz parade, which always attracts younger teens with beer cans, despite police efforts.

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