Torch welcomed with elaborate ceremony at Peñas Blancas crossing

The Antorcha de la Libertad Centroamericana has begun its travels from the northern border. Arrival is expected in Cartago at 8 p.m.

This is the annual relay by Costa Rican students and others throughout Central America to bring the message of liberty to what were the Spanish colonies 194 years ago.

There was song and dance as the torch reached Peñas Blancas Sunday morning.

Then the torch began its 386 kilometer trip.

Each student carries the torch about 200 meters, said the education ministry. Some 2,000 will have participated by tonight.

There were ceremonies and celebrations along the route Sunday. The project only began in 1964, but those students who have carried the torch say it was an experience they will always remember.

Tonight the torch will be in Cartago for a ceremony with President Luis Guillermo Solís and his ministers. The torch is spawning clones all along the route, and the flame is being carried to many of the country’s communities.

The municipal council of Guatemala declared independence from Spain Sept. 15, 1821. And that is the day being celebrated here today. However, the news did not reach isolated Costa Rica until October that year.

Nearly every school in the country will have a parade of faroles tonight. These are the representations of the 19th century street lanterns. Many a parent was up late Sunday night with construction paper and glue helping students build their individual farol.  Some are elaborate.

The idea is that under these lanterns citizens read the letter of independence in the streets.

Costa Ricans will stop at 6 p.m. to sing the national anthem. This is a long tradition, and even waiters and clerks in stores stop their work to sing exactly at 6 p.m.

The torch was to begin its travels today at 5:30 a.m. in the Parque Central in Esparza. At 6:45 a.m. it is scheduled to be at the Escuela Carlos María Jiménez. San Ramón receives the torch at 8:10 a.m. and Palmares an hour and 10 minutes later.

At 10:45 a.m. the torch is expected to arrive in Naranjo and then in Sarchí at the Plaza de Deportes at 11:35 a.m. The arrival in Grecia is scheduled for 12:55 p.m. The arrival in Alajuela is planned for 2:15 p.m. and two hours later in Heredia at the Parque Central.

At 5:30 p.m. the torch bearers make a short stop at the Hospital de Niños. Then at 5:59 p.m. the torch is to arrive at San Jose’s Parque Central in time for the singing of the national anthem at 6 p.m. Then the torch is on to the Parque Central in Tres Ríos at 7:10 p.m. and then to the destination at Las Ruinas at the Municipalidad de Cartago at 8 p.m.

Tuesday, which is a legal holiday, will see parades of school children all over the country. The one in San José begins at 8:30 a.m, and so does the Día de la Independencia ceremonies at Parque Nacional with Solís and many dignitaries attending. Students from 12 schools are expected to participate in the San José parade.show091415

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