U.S. expats and friends to mark July 4

The Fourth of July is a big deal in Costa Rica, and perhaps the only time that thousands of U.S. expats get together.

The July 4 picnic at the Cervercería de Costa Rica picnic grounds is today from 9 a.m. to noon. In San Ramón, the Community Action Alliance is holding a joint Canada Day-July 4 potluck at Los Abuelos.

In San José the American Colony Committee said that each U.S. citizen can bring one Costa Rican friend. The traditional flag raising by the Marines based at the U.S. Embassy is at 11 a.m.

Admission is $10 or 5,000 colons, the committee said. More information is on the organization’s Web page: http://www.americancolonycr.org/

One of the big attractions of the American Colony Committee picnic is free hot dogs and free beer. However, traffic police have been known to stake out the picnic in the hopes of grabbing a few expat drivers who are a bit under the weather.

For those who go by bus from San José, drivers know the location at an overpass west of town about two thirds of the way to the airport. The return trip requires a short hike to a bus stop on the General Cañas highway about 200 meters east of the overpass.

Organizers have set up remote parking and a shuttle bus.

Various veteran organizations will have booths at the picnic, and so will the U.S. Embassy. The embassy is closed today because the day is a national holiday.

The whole idea that originated five decades ago is to provide a typical July 4 celebration for children of U.S. citizens who may never have been to the United States. This still is a big event for kids with many games and sometimes rides.

Across the United States Friday, Americans will celebrate the 238th anniversary of their country’s independence from Britain with parades, more picnics, fireworks, rodeos and concerts.

The 4th of July festivities in Washington include re-enactors portraying historical figures, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, who will read the Declaration of Independence.

There will be a concert and fireworks on the National Mall tonight. The concert will feature Frankie Valli, Patti Labelle, Michael McDonald, the Muppets and the National Symphony Orchestra

Ironically, the Declaration of Independence was drafted by a slave owner, 32-year-old Thomas Jefferson, who later became the third U.S. president.

At the beginning of the Declaration, Jefferson famously wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Jefferson was not the only slave owner to sign the document.  About one third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, from both the North and the South, owned or had owned slaves. George Washington, the first U.S. president, owned over 100.  Adams, the second president and Washington’s vice president, was vehemently opposed to slavery.

The issue was not settled until the Civil War ended nearly 80 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

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