Palmares fiesta will get beer modification program

Expats and tourists who are not worn out with holiday parties have yet another fiesta to put on the to-do list.

This is the two-week event at Palmares that starts Wednesday.

Like most Costa Rican fiestas, the one in Palmares hosts several large beer tents, and some visitors go there mainly to drink and dance.

The health ministry is trying to crack down on this activity this year in conjunction with the sponsor of the fiesta, the Asociación Cívica Palmareña, and Floridas Bebidas, the parent firm of Cervercería Costa Rica.

The health minister, María Luisa Ávila, is expected to announce a program to encourage moderation in drinking. She has a press conference scheduled for today.

A ministry announcement said that the ministry would be taking unspecified actions to change the dynamics of the fiesta to reduce the abuse of alcohol.

If the health ministry actions are not enough, the Policía de Tránsito is planning extensive roadblocks to catch drunk or partly drunk drivers. Costa Rica not only has a drunk driving limit, but there also is a limit to what can be called driving while the ability is impaired by alcohol. Both carry heavy fines.

That is why many expats and Costa Ricans take buses to the fiesta. Some private companies are advertising trips in small buses with the return to the Central Valley between 10 p.m. and midnight.

Thursday is the day for the Palmares tope, which rivals the post-Christmas horse parade in San José. That event will be carried by one or both of the San José commercial television stations.

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