Spring has already arrived to the city of Viña del Mar, one of the favourite holiday resorts in South America, and perhaps the best place in town to appreciate this time of the year is a leisurely walk along its beautiful Waterfront Park.
It may be the time when the colour of leaves are changing to red and yellow, and people begin bundling up in jackets in the northern latitudes; however, since there is another half in this planet, the season for flower blooming and outdoor activities in the southern hemisphere is just starting. It’s the time when people renew their visits to the beaches and the exploration of parks and gardens.
Waterfront Park and Sailor’s Beach
The Waterfront Park of Viña del Mar, Chile, occupies nearly 10 city blocks, about eight hectares in total. The grounds extend along a white sandy beach known as “Los Marineros” ("The Sailors"). The park has delightful gardens, several pergolas, bike paths and walking trails, many recreation areas with gymnastics apparatus, a section with exercise equipment for people with physical disabilities, terraces, water fountains with colour lights, and snack bars overlooking the ocean. All the amenities are very harmonious and the park is a great attraction for residents and tourists visiting this beautiful seaside location.
Aerial view of Viña del Mar city showing the southern section of Waterfront Park and "Los Marineros Beach".
Walking the park with a disciplined companion is a fantastic way to spend the morning.
The waterfront park offers many alternatives for outdoor activities which range from walking, jogging or cycling to observing the many species of seabirds visiting the Chilean coast in the spring and summer. Ubiquitous among the shore birds visiting in spring is the Whimbrel, a migratory bird that breeds in the Arctic shores of Canada and the United States (Alaska), but spends the northern winter feeding on the beaches of the southern Pacific Ocean.
A flock of whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus) at Sailor's Beach. The whimbrel (known locally as "zarapito") nests in the Arctic regions of North America and visits the Pacific coast of South America from late August until April.
Teenagers make good use of the gymnastic equipment in the waterfront park.
A section of the park used to belong to Chilean Navy and was given to the city. It includes several decommissioned artillery pieces which had become a marvellous attraction and fascinating playground for children. The long beach next to the park also provides a perfect place for recreation for those who like fishing or extreme sports such as paragliding.
Bicycle lanes run along the whole length of the park.
Equestrian high-jump world record
Among the highlights of the waterfront park is the fountain and statue erected in honour of Chilean Army Captain Alberto Larraguibel and his horse "Huaso" (Spanish for cowboy) who on February 5, 1949, at a site not far from where the statue is located, broke the world record in the Official International Equestrian High-jump Competition, with a leap of 2.47 meters, a record that 63 years later, remains unbeaten.
At the time of achieving the world record, Huaso was 16 years old, a bit aged to accomplish such a feat. It was his last competitive endeavour. After breaking the record, the horse was retired and never ridden again. He spent his last years grazing the pastures of the Cavalry Academy, where he died of old age at 29.
Captain Larraguibel discontinued horseback riding in 1953 because of health reasons, however, he remained active as a mentor of the Chilean equestrian high-jumping team in international competitions. In 1979, in the 30th anniversary of the record, a reporter asked him if he thought possible that anyone could beat his world record. "I am convinced that it is possible. You only need it to happen, as it happened to me; the perfect harmony of horse and rider, balance and speed, and that there is another man willing to throw his heart over the obstacle and go pick it up, without hesitation, at the other side." said Larraguibel. The legendary rider died in Santiago in 1995, at the age of 75.
The statue of Larraguibel and Huaso stands on a beautiful water fountain on the Waterfront Park of Viña del Mar City.
The bronze sculpture is the work of artist Francisco Javier Torres; it measures 4.20 meters and weighs about four tons. It consists of several parts: a base with two Greek mythology deities, a male character that represents Titan, a female figure representing the Goddess Victoria (Latin for "Victory"), both holding the figure of Huaso the horse, and his rider Captain Alberto Larraguibel.
"Breaking the high jump record (1949)". Captain Alberto Larraguibel and his horse "Huaso" jump an obstacle 2.47 meters-high breaking the world record of equestrian high-jump, on February 5, 1949.
Note: The image “Breaking the high jump record (1949)” is reproduced here under the following fair-use rationale: This image depicts the breaking of one of the longest-held sport records in history. As such, it shows a significant moment in the history of sports; it represents clearly what the article describes and adds to its quality; it's irreproducible (the record has still not been broken), cannot be replaced by a free-source image (none exist) and is of low-quality.