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Stories about San José

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Costa Rica's "Bomberos" Celebrate their 150th Birthday

Updated: Jul 1, 2018

One of the antique fire trucks on display for the 150th Anniversary of the Fire Department, sits in front of Costa Rica’s National Theater.

by Michael Miller

(July, 2015)

Costa Rica’s “Bomberos” Celebrate their 150th Birthday.

There is always something happening in the Plaza de la Cultura.  This is the most popular gathering place in Downtown San José, Costa Rica, next to the venerable National Theater.

And this weekend was no exception.  This past Sunday, the country’s firemen (or “bomberos”) celebrated their 150th anniversary.

Attired it their finest dress blues, these two fire fighters chosen to be part of the color guard, prepare to carry the flags to the dignitary’s stage.

Dignitaries and Fire Department brass mingled with the crowd of thousands to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Costa Rica’s “Bomberos.”

On display in the Plaza were two antique fire trucks, the oldest one was made in 1910.  In addition, there were modern fire trucks from different Costa Rican cities, parked in formation at the edge of the Plaza.

There were two bandstands erected, one for musical acts and one for the various dignitaries attending the event.  The most popular musical group to perform was not from Costa Rica, but from the USA. They were the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums.  This was a group of bagpipers and drummers, flown in for the occasion, from the New York City Fire Department.  The Ticos were dazzled (and especially the Ticas), by the strapping New York firefighters performing in their Irish kilts.

Flown in from the USA for the occasion, the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums from the New York City Fire Department entertained the crowd.

Ticos lined up to be photographed with the firemen from New York City dressed in traditional Irish kilts.

A crowd of thousands watched as a priest gave the benediction.  He then walked through the crowd, along with an alter boy carrying holy water.  The priest dipped a scepter into the holy water and blessed each of fire engines.

When the blessings were completed, the fire trucks all gave a salute by letting loose with their sirens simultaneously, and by spraying a long continuous blast of water into the air.  The crowd, especially the children, loved it.

After the blessing of the fire trucks, the firemen let loose with their sirens and shot a spray of water into the air.

When the celebration ended, the dignitaries were led to a tent where they were given a piece of a huge birthday cake.  The crowd was then invited in to share a piece of the cake.  They spent the rest of the afternoon getting pictures of the fire trucks and mingling with the hundreds of fire fighters attending the event.  It’s all part of "The Real San José."

This future fireman was very pleased with the event.

Michael Miller is the author of the first and only guide book that focuses on Downtown San José, Costa Rica, titled The Real San José. Paperback copies are available for sale at selected retail outlets in San José.  An electronic version of The Real San José is available at Amazon/Kindle.  To access it, click here.

Your questions and comments are always welcomed. You can contact Michael directly by email: You can see additional stories that Michael has written about Downtown San José at his website:


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