Mayor promises a punctual start for Festival de la Luz

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Part of the municipal float peeks out from a covered
building where it is being prepared. The site is off limits, as
are other locations where floats are being constructed.

The Municipalidad de San José is putting the finishing touches on the 17th edition of the Festival de la Luz 2012. The show will commence Saturday at 6 p.m.

“We are absolutely ready for the activity, the Festival de la Luz this Saturday,” said Johnny Araya Monge, mayor of San José.

“There is a very low prediction of rain, and it is a beautiful day . . . this Saturday,” he added.

The lights festival, which consists of 11 carrozas or floats and 13 bands, will begin at the Gimnasio Nacional on Calle 42 at Parque la Sabana continuing to the statue of León Cortés. The parade will then take Paseo Colón to Calle 14 where it turns a block south to take Avenida Segunda. It continues on Avenida Secunda to Calle 11.

The municipality has designed for the floats to park in different places after the parade. Some of the floats will head toward Plaza de la Democracia while others will take Avenida Segunda back to the statue. All bands and cheerleading groups will end up at the Museo Nacional.

Preparation for the night is already under way. Monday the municipality began building bleachers and platforms for viewers. Construction workers are expected to finish all the work Friday at noon. Later the Municipality will begin to rope off the route for the Festival.

Officials described the activity as an all-day event. Those who want to see the carrozas in advance, can view them at La Sabana park. Floats will arrive at La Sabana park early Saturday.

The Festival de la Luz 2012 will begin at 6 p.m.

“It’s a very punctual activity,” said Araya.

Throughout the parade, fireworks will be shot from Parque la Sabana and the roofs of Banco Nacional de Costa Rica, Banco de Costa Rica, Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago, Banco Popular and Edificio Ofomeco.

The parade is expected to last until 9 p.m. Perhaps as many as a million persons will line the parade route, and local television will carry the full event.

More than 160 Cruz Roja workers will be on call during the festival. They will have 20 ambulances and six vehicles dispersed across the route and 12 stations set up to administer medical care and first aid.

Last year the organization served 186 patients, said spokespersons. “The efforts and commitments of the cruzrojistas will be reflected this Saturday during the Festival de la Luz,” said Carlos Gutierrez, chief of national rescue service. “Our job is to safeguard the integrity of the attendees.”

Stations will be at the Gimnasio Nacional, Léon Cortés, Centro Colón, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Torre Mercedes, Hospital San Juan de Dios, La Merced, La Cañada, Parque Central, Banco Popular and Plaza de la Democracia.

For safety, the Cruz Roja is cautioning patrons to check bus schedules and stop relocations, to wear visible clothing for drivers, to carry identification, to refrain from bringing bulky items such as backpacks, to leave flashy jewelry at home and to establish a meeting place in case someone in their party gets lost.

During the event, the organization also recommends that parents keep a close eye on minors.

The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia will be on site to protect minors who are lost or put in at risk situations during the festival, it said.

According to the children’s organization, last year the Patronato provided protection to 38 minors who were lost or put in risky situations by adults such as placing them on top of walls, roofs, bus stops and phone booths.

This was an increase from the 19 minors that needed the Patronato’s aid in 2010.

Floats designed for the Festival de la Luz are closely guarded state secrets. A photographer could not see the float being finished up for the Municipalidad de San José, but this sketch, which may or may not be the final design, was available.

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