On-again, off-again Tope is declared to be on again

Holiday celebrations here are always last-minute events.

Health ministry approval of the Fiestas de San José in Zapote always are cliff-hangers. So was approval of construction of the rondel where bull riders and bull baiters perform the entire holiday season.

One of the nation’s most cherished events was thrown into doubt Wednesday when organizers of the Tope Nacional, the giant horse parade through San Jose’s downtown said the event had been canceled.

The organizers said they just could not afford the amount of food that Fuerza Pública officers were demanding. Some 600 officers have been assigned to guard the horse parade route and the assembly areas from 5 a.m. Sunday.

The midday announcement sent shock waves through the country. Horsemen and horsewomen come from all over for the event.

Fuerza Pública officers were seeking breakfast for 600, two sets of snacks, lunch for 600 and also dinner, according to organizers.

The announcement that the event was canceled appears to have been taken without consultation of the people at the top, Mayor Johnny Araya of San José and Jose María Tijerino Pacheco, the security minister.

Eventually these officials came to an agreement. The security ministry would provide breakfast for the 600 officers and the municipality would provide the lunch and dinners, according to the agreement.

The security ministry rushed out a news release in the late afternoon to confirm that the Tope still was on for Sunday.

Not so in Desamparados. The annual carnival and parade there, planned for Monday, will not take place, municipal officials said. They blamed the lack of sponsors. This would have been the fourth year.

In Zapote, workmen are putting the finishing touches on booths and rides for the fiestas there that open Christmas Day. More than 70 bulls, mostly from Guanacaste, are being hauled to the fairgrounds for the uniquely Costa Rican Christmas bullfighting a la Tico. The events in which participants frequently are mauled by fighting bulls is televised.

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