By: Vinny Losasso
On September 15th, Costa Rica celebrated its 191st Independence Day since the country declared its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. To celebrate the occasion, the public school of Potrero planned a march with faroles (paper lanterns made by the kids), the arrival of the “Liberty Flame,” and a parade featuring the marching band and baton twirlers. Unfortunately, due to the 7.6 magnitude earthquake centered at the nearby city of Nicoya on September 5th and the threat of continued geological instability, the Ministry of Education called for a cancelation of most of these celebratory activities. Feeling as though the community still desired an event to mark the national holiday, the women of the Abriendo Mentes Club de Niños Committee decided to move forward with the plan to hold a bingo in the Salón, Potrero’s large community events building.
Planning for the event started weeks ago with AM and Committee volunteers contacting local organizations to inquire about donations for bingo prizes. The business owners pulled through providing a wealth of prizes including small kitchen appliances, gift certificates, cash and baskets overflowing with food. On the day of the event, preparations started early with volunteers and community members arriving in the morning to set up tables and chairs and adorn the Salón with red, white and blue decorations, festive signs, ribbons and balloons.
Guests started to arrive early in the afternoon, and in no time every seat was filled, transforming the Salón from a large empty building to one filled with friends greeting friends, children running and laughing and, of course, several members of Potrero’s ever-present dog population. After a quick announcement thanking everyone for coming, Deysi, a Club de Niños Committee member, and Trevor, AM’s Community Events Coordinator, turned the handle on the tombola and called the first number and the games began.
In total 28 games were played each ending with an excited “Bingo!” and a proud walk back to their table to show everyone what they had won. The only things interrupting the calling of numbers were a few breaks to enjoy the live marimba music, call raffle ticket numbers, and to sample some items from the menu including vigorones (pork, yucca, and cabbage dish), BBQ pork, tacos, and horchata (sweet, milky, cinnamon beverage). In a matter of a few hours it was over. While not everyone was able to leave holding a prize, everyone left having had a great time with their friends and family celebrating Independence Day.