Horses and their riders once again take over the streets of city

A.M. Costa Rica/Andrew Rulseh Kasper Ranchero singers, show ponies and route marked with Christmas decorations

Whether big, little, black, white, brown, spotted or otherwise, the theme in San José Monday was horses and their equine-loving aficionados who filled the downtown streets of Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda in the annual parade.

The procession began in La Sabana and ended in the heart of the city. Official estimates place the number of participants between 3,000 and 3,500. Though most of them rode their horses, that was not the only manner to complete the route. Others walked alongside show ponies, some just walked slinging lassos and performing cowboy tricks, while some were pulled in buggies by the horses. Meanwhile, judges in Parque Central scored the riders and their horses as they passed.

Vicente Campos, a member of the five-person San José festivals commission who helped organize the event, said the tradition-steeped event has been taking place for more than 100 years and coincides with the national day of caballistas. He said most of the participants represented specific ranches or rider’s or breeders clubs, each with a special focus on a certain type of horsemanship or horse. Some of the clubs in the parade
promoted purebred Spanish horses while others took pride in their horses style of high-stepping popular at such showcase events.

Some of the more notable participants seen at the event were a man dressed as Zorro, the folkloric hero wearing all black and a rider with a large hat and ornate cowboy clothes representing Charrerías Alvarado, who sang popular ranchero songs through his microphone while he rode his horse. And there were the beauty queens of San José, who rode in a car at the front. The parade began by honoring Ariel Ary, a young man with down syndrome who is known by fellow Costa Ricans for his participation in the Special Olympics.

Lining the streets of the city to watch the spectacle were crowds and crowds of Costa Ricans. Many were drinking and dancing as the horses passed by. Comissioner Alban Hidalgo of the reserve volunteer unit of the Fuerza Pública said the crowd of spectators was estimated to be about one million with around 1,000 police officers employed on patrols, including some on horseback in the parade itself. As of 4 p.m. he said he was not aware of any major security incidents and that the biggest problem encountered in such events were excess drinking and street fights or pick-pocketing.

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