City’s new Chinese quarter inaugurated with Christmas songs

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
A traditional Chinese dragon passes in front of the La Soledad church.

The municipality inaugurated Calle Chino Wednesday with an all-day festival of parades, musical performances and dance.

Hundreds gathered around a stage placed a few meters from the grand archway and watched as groups from regions such as San José, Nicoya, Puntarenas and Santa Cruz shared Chinese culture.

“We have different groups from different areas of the country to perform during this event by the municipalidad,” announced spokespersons.

However, China was not the only theme. Orchestra students from Centro de Atención Formativa y Recreativa Antonio José Obando Chan Toñito in Puntarenas pulled from their repertoire Christmas songs such as “Joy to the World” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

The group, dressed in conical Asian hats, then enlivened the crowd with contemporary songs such as the television series Hawaii Five-0 theme song and Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” to which young audience members sang along.

Calle Chino is located at the Paseo de los Estudiantes or Calle 9, and was built as a symbol of friendship between Costa Rica and China. The construction was recently finished after 10 months of work, allowing participants to walk freely up and down the pedestrian mall.

The process cost many business owners sales, and some even closed, they reported.

To shop owners relief, the inauguration also came with a lot of business. Rochi Ruvoletto, owner of Top Pizza which opened four months ago, said he had many customers come in throughout the day.

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Students from Centro de Atención Formativa y Recreativa
Antonio José Obando Chan Toñito from El Roble,
Puntarenas. also played Christmas carols.

Hopefully, this is a sign for the future, he said.

There still is lingering resentment. ICOMOS de Costa Rica has its offices on Calle 9. The non-profit organization is the local representative of the International Council of Monuments and Sites. A press release Wednesday said that the organization is working to retain the Costa Rican identity of the area and the surrounding Barrio La Soledad. The organization said it achieved some success in having the Chinese arch moved from in front of the La Soledad church.

Despite its efforts to retain the name of Paseo de los Estudiantes, municipal workers put a Barrio Chino sign in front of its offices, the organization said.

The name of the street honoring students is not just because the Liceo de Costa Rica and the Colegio Superior de Señoritas are nearby. The designation reflects the bravery of students to overthrow the dictatorship of president Federico Alberto Tinoco Granados and his brother, Joaquín, who was minster of war, in 1918.

Students and others took to the streets to end the bloody dictatorship after an armed uprising was stifled by assassinations.

In addition there is political opposition to Johnny Araya Monge, the San José mayor, who helped create the idea of a Barrio Chino. He is a presidential candidate.

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