Horse parade participants had antidote to the cold

This rider brought his own in a traditional bota. Photo: A.M. Costa Rica

More than 4,000 horsemen and horsewomen, some of them fortified against the chilly weather by beer, wine and other alcohols, took to the streets of San José Sunday for the annual Tope Nacional.

They were cheered by an estimated 200,000 persons, many of them also fortified against the elements.

A threatening sky never produced rain, but temperatures ranged from 13 to 18 C. Morning winds of up to 45 kph gave way to less forceful gusts during the afternoon horse parade. The temperature was from, 55 to 65 F, and the crowds dressed accordingly.

The Cruz Roja said it treated 51 persons during the horse parade and that 14 went to local hospitals. There were fewer cases of dehydration this year, thanks to the weather. The event has been held under a blistering sun. The Cruz Roja has 15 aid stations set up along the parade route through downtown San José.

A few riders fell from their mounts, but it was not known if any suffered injuries sufficient to be included in the Cruz Roja statistics.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said the windy weather and lower temperatures would continue with some light rain today mostly in the mountains around the Central Valley. The same forecast was made for the central Pacific, but the north Pacific was supposed to be windy but clear.

The weather also was a factor at the Fiestas de San José at the Zapote fairgrounds. Spectators at the evening bull fights were bundled up. The informal bull fighters in the area also were dressed heavier. Some wore gloves. Others wore hats and Halloween masks. As is normal, many wore unusual costumes.

This is the event when about 100 would-be bull fighters get in the ring with a 1,000-pound fighting bull. The Cruz Roja maintains aid stations at the festival and also one inside the rondel where wounded bull fighters are passed through a window. Throughout the bulk of the evening performance Sunday a few bull fighters were treated, but there were no serious injuries. That is true even though bulls occasionally did tap dances on the heads of fallen participants.

Most seemed to be experienced and could duck under the horns of the bulls. One of the few women in the ring baited a bull by kneeling in the style of traditional bullfighters. Just as she seemed frustrated that the bull did not respond, the beast turned and ran through her and then returned to walk over her again. She missed being gored and did not appear badly hurt.

Channel 6 Repretel is covering the bullfights live with boom cameras and camera operators with helmet cams in the ring. The bull baiting and bull riding continues for a week.

Fuerza Pública officers said they made a few arrests and confiscated some seven knives. The bull fights began Christmas afternoon.

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