Limón Carnaval marks 125 years with party and pride

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
There was no shortage of beautiful women and colorful costumes amid the Caribbean sound.

At 6 a.m. Saturday, vendors from San José boarded the Caribbean bus to Limón. In their luggage they had packed bags with wide brimmed hats and protective wrapped Styrofoam boards that held sunglasses.

Their destination was Carnavales Del Caribe in the capital of Limón providence, and their intent was to sell products to the thousands who enjoyed the event.

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Bold headwear and brief outfits were the rule.

Johanna, a vendor who sold rosaries and ponchos in downtown San José in August to romeros on their way to Cartago, traded her religious merchandise for toys for kids and stools to sit. This is her livelihood, she said.

Around the vendors, vibrations from percussionists beating drums filled the air. Women paraded alongside in colorful costumes moving their hips to the Caribbean sound. Floats carried pageant winners, including the Carnival queen, Cicely Norman Brown, and performance artists wowed the crowd with tricks.

From 2 p.m. forward, the entire port city became a party. The theme, “Para volver a creer,” idealized the mission of the committee to return to the festival image the creator Alfred Heny Smith had envisioned in 1949.

In the past, Carnaval was shut down because of dengue fever and had become a place with a reputation of violence. This year, the festival was a place of pride, and Carnaval celebrated the 125th Anniversary with no major incidents. The Fuerza Pública agreed that the 11-day event was the safest in recent years. They said they detained 52 persons and confiscated 20 weapons. Most of the arrests were for fighting, possession of small amounts of crack and, in one case, trying to pass counterfeit bills.

After the parade, patrons took part in shopping along the main avenue. The street led to Parque Vargas where Costa Rican group Son Mayor performed a concert of classic salsa music as guests danced in the night air.

Once the group finished, a display of fireworks burst in the sky and illuminated the Caribbean sea.

A group that performed both Spanish and reggae hits concluded the night, leaving the crowd chanting “otra, otra” as the performers left from the park.

Carnaval continued through Sunday, the last day.

As for the vendors, they have moved back to their homes but remain ready for the next big event.

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
There was a queen, a group of cutups and a clown, too.

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