Celebrating San Diego history at Festival of the Bells.

Five church bells hang in the distinctive facade of the historic Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded by Junipero Serra on July 16, 1769.
Five church bells hang in the distinctive facade of the historic Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded by Junipero Serra.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our lives will soon become history. And that the lives of people, no matter how imperfect, create a rich, varied tapestry that reaches centuries back in time, and forward into the future.

Young and old–representatives from several generations–came together this weekend in San Diego to again celebrate the Festival of the Bells. The annual event is held at Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first Spanish mission to be built in California. Food, song and dancing accompanied colorful religious rituals such as the Blessing of the Bells and the Blessing of the Animals. Everyone was welcome to enjoy the free festival.

The original San Diego del Alcala was founded in 1769–almost 250 years ago–at the site of the old Spanish presidio, near the edge of San Diego Bay.  The current mission building was erected by Father Serra in 1774, a few miles up the San Diego River where the land was more fertile.

The distinctive facade and bells of this historical landmark are often used as a symbol for our city, and the ringing of the bells are like echoes from a complex, often strife-filled, but fascinating past. The youngest generation, seeing this old world with fresh, optimistic eyes, jumping free and loving life in the festival’s bounce house, will remember today decades in the future as just another small moment in the journey of history. Hopefully that memory is good.

The Festival of the Bells is an annual event which celebrates the establishment and long history of California's first Spanish mission.
The Festival of the Bells is an annual celebration which memorializes the establishment and long history of California’s first Spanish mission.
Young people provide free family entertainment for the public at the 2015 Festival of the Bells.
Young people provide family entertainment free to the public at the 2015 Festival of the Bells.
A large audience had gathered in the mission's spacious courtyard, even as rain threatened on Sunday afternoon.
A large audience had gathered in the mission’s spacious courtyard-like quadrangle, even as rain threatened on Sunday afternoon.
Folks hang out around the central fountain, eating yummy food and taking in sights, smells and sounds during a lively San Diego tradition.
Folks hang out around the central fountain, eating food and taking in sights, smells and sounds during a lively San Diego tradition.
Proceeds from sales of food, crafts and gifts benefited Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, which is an active Catholic church.
Proceeds from sales of food, crafts and gifts benefited Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, which is an active Catholic church.
Who can resist root beer floats?
Who can resist root beer floats?
Put a friend in the mission jailhouse to raise some money!
Put a friend in the jailhouse to raise some money!
San Diego de Alcalá was the first of 21 Spanish mission in California, established by Father Junipero Serra in 1769.
San Diego de Alcalá was the first of 21 Spanish missions in California, established by Father Junipero Serra in 1769.
Small statues along walkway at front of San Diego de Alcala depict Saints who inspired California mission names. This is Mission Santa Clara de Asis, founded 1777.
Small statues along walkway at front of San Diego de Alcala depict Saints who inspired California mission names. This is for Mission Santa Clara de Asis, founded 1777.
Sign in the mission's garden explains The Campanario. (Click to enlarge.)
Sign in the mission’s garden explains The Campanario. (Click to enlarge.)

The campanario is 46 feet high and holds the Mission bells. The crown-topped bell on the lower right is named Ave Maria Purisima–Immaculate Mary. It weights 805 pounds and was cast in 1802 . . . The bells played an important role in the everyday life of the Mission . . . They were used to announce times for Mass, work, meals and siestas. The bells signaled danger, rang solemnly to honor the dead, and pealed joyously to celebrate feast days, weddings and fiestas.

Of the five church bells, one original bell dates back to 1802.
Of the five church bells, one original bell dates back to 1802.

San Diego is an endlessly interesting place!  You can enjoy photos from many varied walks by following on Facebook or Twitter.

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

9 thoughts on “Celebrating San Diego history at Festival of the Bells.”

    1. I have a number of San Diego website event calendars bookmarked. Some discoveries are made watching local news; others are made just as I walk about randomly! And I still miss lots of interesting stuff. Only so much time and energy!

      Liked by 1 person

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