Dancing with joy at a big Greek Festival!

Early this afternoon I headed to St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church on Park Boulevard to enjoy their annual Greek Festival. Wow!

Tables and tents in the parking lot behind the church were overflowing with yummy Greek food, laughter, smiles and good cheer. Under the big tent the music, song and dancing was nonstop. Everyone clapped to lively traditional Greek music as people spontaneously jumped up and joined hands to dance. The spirit of “Opa!” was alive!

Kids in colorful Greek costume also danced. I believe the group I watched were called the Delphinian Dancers. They were showered with money during the performance, flowing from the large audience’s sheer joy and gratitude.

The festival continues through the weekend. If you like good times, you must definitely go!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

An architectural masterpiece in San Diego.

An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.
An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist building, designed by renowned architect Irving Gill and completed in 1910, is considered by many to be a masterpiece. I often pause a minute or two to admire its simple, rhythmic beauty when I walk near Second Avenue and Laurel Street in Bankers Hill.

During the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event a couple weekends ago, I ventured inside the church for the very first time.

I was interested to learn that when it was completed over a century ago, the mayor of San Diego considered the building such an amazing architectural accomplishment that he showed it to visiting dignitaries. I also learned that the church underwent a “modern” remodel in the 1950’s, which removed archways, windows and the beautiful glass dome. Thankfully the building was restored to its original appearance in 1998.

To my fascinated eyes, the arches, windows and tower are elegant, like notes of music. The white stucco enhances every perfect line and curve, as if a cloud were carved precisely with the architect’s pencil.

I took some photos! Read the captions for additional information.

Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation OPEN HOUSE.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space. I’m reminded of a jewel’s bright facets.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
A large poster containing photographs of the building's 1950's appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
A large poster containing photographs of the building’s 1950’s appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
The poster's legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
The poster’s legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950's. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950’s. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
An architectural marvel in San Diego's Bankers Hill neighborhood.
An architectural marvel in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.

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A quick peek inside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

View of St. Paul's Cathedral in Bankers Hill from across Fifth Avenue.
View of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral from across Fifth Avenue.

I swung by St. Paul’s Cathedral in Bankers Hill a couple weekends ago during the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. A friendly gentleman named Bob who belongs to this Episcopal church showed me the original Great Hall which was completed in 1929, then the impressive interior of the cathedral, or “big house” as he called it, which was finally completed in 1951.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed by architect Philip Frohman, who is best remembered as the designer of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The building contains elements of both Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The original pipes of the historic church organ date from 1887. They were brought by ship around Cape Horn, to serve as the first organ in Old Town San Diego.

The cathedral was visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 during her trip to San Diego aboard Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia. I was told that she spoke to the congregation and enjoyed listening to Evensong.

I gleaned a few odd bits of information during the informal tour and have included them in my photo captions.

Looking north at the impressive cathedral and its stained glass windows from Nutmeg Street.
Looking north at the impressive cathedral and its many stained glass windows from Nutmeg Street.
St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego was designed by famed architect Philip Frohman.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego was designed by famed architect Philip Frohman.
Ladies exit through an arcade of elegant columns.
Ladies exit through an arcade of elegant columns.
A gentleman in the church's courtyard greeted visitors for the weekend architectural event.
A gentleman in the church’s courtyard greeted visitors during the weekend architectural event.
Construction of St. Paul's Parish House or Great Hall began in 1928.
Construction of St. Paul’s parish house or Great Hall began in 1928.
The most notable thing I saw in the Great Hall is the incredible original wooden beamed ceiling, which is showing signs of age.
The most notable thing I saw in the Great Hall is the incredible original wooden beamed ceiling, which is showing signs of age.
Turning my camera for another shot of this amazing ceiling.
Turning my camera for another shot of this amazing ceiling.
Sunlight enters through a rose window.
Sunlight enters through a rose window.
A plaque in the courtyard area between the Great Hall and cathedral. This garden commemorates the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to this church on February 27, 1983.
A plaque in the courtyard area between the Great Hall and cathedral. This garden commemorates the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to this church on February 27, 1983.
Inside the beautiful cathedral, looking east from the nave toward the chancel and historic pipe organ.
Inside the beautiful cathedral, looking east from the nave toward the chancel and historic Great Organ.
People have quietly entered the sacred place. The gray interior walls allow the stained glass lancet windows, created by Judson Studios in Pasadena, to fill the eyes of worshipers.
People have quietly entered the sacred place. The gray interior walls allow light from the stained glass lancet windows, created by Judson Studios in Pasadena, to fill the eyes of worshipers.
This small Lady Chapel to the east was built in 1975. It is used for weddings and other celebrations. It contains a much smaller organ.
This small Lady Chapel to the east was built in 1975. It’s used for weddings and other celebrations. It contains a smaller organ.
The cathedra, or bishop's throne, off to one side.
The cathedra, or bishop’s seat, off to one side.
More resplendent stained glass, like celestial visions shining through darkness.
More resplendent stained glass, like celestial visions shining through darkness.

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Beautiful sanctuary of historic San Diego church.

Today I visited six truly amazing buildings in Bankers Hill and Balboa Park. All six are featured locations in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.

I enjoyed fascinating looks inside architectural gems–special looks the public seldom experiences. I took lots of photos and intend to tour a few more iconic locations tomorrow. So I have a lot of blogging to do the next week or two!

My very first stop this morning was the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego, located in Bankers Hill on Date Street, between Third and Fourth Avenue. The friendly church manager greeted visitors at the front door, and he was very nice to give me a short tour inside the building.

The first thing I learned was that this is actually the First Presbyterian Church’s third structure in San Diego. The initial congregation came together in 1869 in what was then called New Town–now downtown San Diego. The first church structure was built at Eighth and D Streets on land donated by Alonzo Horton. As the membership grew, a second church building was begun in 1887, on property adjacent to the first. Unfortunately the land boom of that time soon came to an end. Somehow that building was completed in spite of financial difficulties.

The present building, the focus of this tour, had its first service in 1913 in the Assembly Room, about a year before the amazing sanctuary was finally completed and this third church was dedicated. Located near the base of Bankers Hill overlooking downtown, the imposing cathedral-like structure incorporates huge stained glass windows that were preserved from the previous building, including the exquisite central panels Christ the Sower.

Sowing seeds of compassion in our community, the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego makes it a point to feed many of the homeless downtown–almost 250 souls every Sunday. These good folks practice what they preach.

Like many grand old churches, the exterior of the present-day building might appear a bit worn by time and weather, but the interior, with its warm wood and glowing stained glass at every turn, seems like a tiny glimpse of heaven.

I must say I was really impressed by the grace, grandeur and beauty of the sanctuary. And the kind smile of my tour guide.

View of the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego from Fourth Avenue. The stained glass window shines its light into a very beautiful sanctuary.
View of the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego from Fourth Avenue. A large, historic stained glass window shines its light into a very beautiful sanctuary.
View of the church's south side along Date Street.
Partial view of the church’s south side along Date Street.
Plaque on building indicates the First Presbyterian Church was erected in 1913.
Plaque on building indicates the First Presbyterian Church was erected in 1913.
An historical photo near the church office shows the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego about a hundred years ago, in what was then considered the outskirts of town.
Historical photo near the church office shows the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego about a hundred years ago, in what was then considered the outskirts of town.
Entering doors that lead to the magnificent sanctuary.
Entering doors that lead to the magnificent sanctuary.

The church's nearly 6,000 pipe Casavant organ rises like rays of silvery light crowning the chancel.
The church’s nearly 6,000 pipe Casavant organ rises like rays of silvery light crowning the chancel.
Heading up some handsome stairs near colorful stained glass. We will emerge on the sanctuary's balcony.
Heading up some stairs near colorful stained glass. We will emerge on the sanctuary’s balcony.

One of the finest examples of stained glass in San Diego shines light into the historic church.
One of the finest examples of stained glass in San Diego shines light into the historic church.
A scene from the Bible, to the glory of God.
A scene from the Bible, to the glory of God.
The likeness of Christ, created in memory of one of the faithful.
The likeness of Christ, in memory of one of the faithful.
A place for religious faith and worship. Amazing beauty inside the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.
A place for religious faith and worship. Amazing beauty inside the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

8 Ways to Fight Human Trafficking in San Diego.

Rachel Thompson of the Junior League San Diego introduces District Attorney Summer Stephan during the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally.
Rachel Thompson of the Junior League San Diego introduces District Attorney Summer Stephan during the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally.

Today I walked up to Balboa Park to experience the 5th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally. The event was organized by the Junior League of San Diego, and brought together most of the key players in San Diego’s fight against human trafficking.

While legislative progress has been made in the fight, the terrible problem of human trafficking persists. I learned San Diego sees far too much of this type of crime because of our city’s proximity to the Mexican border and its status as a popular tourist destination.

Many tables were set up at the event containing literature about how concerned citizens can take action. Everyone was encouraged to spread the word and increase awareness and involvement throughout the community.

I thought my blog could possibly provide a bit of help. Here are eight things that you can do to learn about and fight against human trafficking in San Diego:

1. Learn how to recognize victims of human trafficking. The following three photos contain vital information that you can use and share.

A flyer from the Office for Victims of Crime provides key information on human trafficking, including warning signs. (Please click this image to enlarge for easy reading.)
A flyer from the Office for Victims of Crime provides key information on human trafficking, including warning signs. (Please click this image to enlarge for easy reading.)
Information from Homeland Security's Blue Campaign explains the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.
Information from Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign explains the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.
A checklist of human trafficking indicators. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
A checklist of human trafficking indicators. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

2. Support the Alabaster Jar Project. This organization empowers survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. They provide a safe living environment and transitional housing, plus an array of support services and educational opportunities. Located in San Diego’s North County.

3. Become involved with CAT, or Churches Against Trafficking, a network of churches in San Diego that together provide service, resources and prayer to help solve a difficult problem in our community.

Churches Against Trafficking is a network of churches that provide service, resources and prayer in San Diego against human trafficking.
Churches Against Trafficking is a network of churches that have joined together to provide service, resources and prayer in San Diego against human trafficking.

4. Support the Lynch Foundation For Children. They are working to prevent human trafficking through education. They also assist in locating and recovering runaway children, and support victims’ services.

5. Learn about and possibly volunteer with the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC), an alliance of government and nonprofit agencies in the United States and Latin America convened along the U.S.-Mexico Border Region to combat slavery and human trafficking. Their 24-hour Emergency Trafficking Hotline is 619-666-2757. The hotline serves victims of trafficking, community clinics and doctors, social service agencies, concerned citizens and law enforcement personnel.

6. Visit the Sex Trafficking Resource Center page of the San Diego Public Library website and learn more facts about this difficult but very important subject. The web page includes a variety of resources, including helpful links specifically for youth.

7. Visit the San Diego District Attorney’s human trafficking onlineĀ page. It’s a resource that contains a good deal of vital information, including Signs of Human Trafficking, What You Can Do, Community Resources and Safety Tips.

The FBI had literature available concerning human trafficking. The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.
During the event, the FBI offered literature concerning human trafficking. The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.
Can you see her? It's time to open our eyes. Victims of the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor have been invisible, until now.
Can you see her? It’s time to open our eyes. Victims of the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor have been invisible, until now.

8. Check out these other local shelters and organizations. They need mentors, volunteers and resources:

Children of the Immaculate Heart

Generate Hope

Mary’s Guest House

North County Lifeline

PLNU Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund

Shining Stars

Salvation Army’s Door of Hope

San Diego Youth Services

These citizens are working to stop human trafficking. Will you join them?
These citizens are working to stop human trafficking. Will you join them?

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Bells ring in San Diego for Constitution Day!

Fred Grand, President of the Old Town Chamber of Commerce, reads a proclamation during a special Constitution Day ceremony.
Fred Grand, President of the Old Town Chamber of Commerce, reads a proclamation during a special Constitution Day ceremony.

Bells rang in San Diego at exactly one o’clock this Sunday afternoon to celebrate Constitution Day. A special ceremony took place on the steps of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Old Town, where a gathering of people rang bells they had brought for the occasion.

The patriotic ceremony was organized by the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and featured a proclamation by Fred Grand, President of the Old Town Chamber of Commerce. Attendees also sang the Star-Spangled Banner, America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee), America the Beautiful, and God Bless America.

To celebrate the United States Constitution and the freedoms the document guarantees all citizens, many bells rang today simultaneously all across America. Bells pealed in Pennsylvania, where the United States Constitution was signed by delegates to the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.

The Daughters of the American Revolution supports Old Town and have for almost 100 years. You can see their historical markers on the big rock in the southeast corner of the grassy Plaza de las Armas, at the Casa de Estudillo, the Cosmopolitan Hotel, the San Diego Union print shop, the Rockin Baja restaurant (over their front doorway), and another on Taylor Street near Presidio Drive. The DAR will soon be placing another marker at the site of the First San Diego Courthouse.

Priest of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Old Town talks to people in front of the historic church after Sunday Mass.
Priest of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Old Town talks to people in front of the historic church after Sunday Mass.
At one'o'clock, people of many backgrounds and beliefs gather on the church steps to celebrate the United States Constitution, which enshrines human liberty.
At one o’clock, people of many backgrounds and beliefs gather on the church steps to celebrate the United States Constitution, which enshrines individual human liberty.
This old bell of the Daughters of the American Revolution features an inscription from the United States Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This old bell of the Daughters of the American Revolution features an inscription from the United States Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
One historical plaque, which marks the end of the Kearney Trail in Old Town San Diego, was placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1920.
One historical plaque, which marks the end of the Kearney Trail in Old Town San Diego, was placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1920.
Another historical marker placed by the DAR can be found in Old Town's Casa de Estudillo.
Another historical marker placed by the DAR can be found inside Old Town’s Casa de Estudillo.
Kathleen Winchester, historian of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, is presented with an official proclamation on Constitution Day.
Kathleen Winchester, historian of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, is presented with an official proclamation on Constitution Day.
The patriotic gathering sings The Star-Spangled Banner.
The patriotic gathering sings The Star-Spangled Banner.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

A taste of San Diego’s historic Little Portugal.

Design on tiles indicates Portuguese American Social and Civic Club.
Image on tiles indicates Portuguese American Social and Civic Club.

The history of the Portuguese community in Point Loma is fascinating. During a walk along a block of Avenida de Portugal, I got just a small glimpse of it.

Many have heard of Little Italy in San Diego, but I suspect few have heard of a neighborhood that some call Little Portugal. It can be found near the entrance to Shelter Island, an area settled by many families of Portuguese fishermen when the tuna industry flourished in our city. The neighborhood was once called Tunaville. Two landmarks that were built by the Portuguese almost a century ago still exist today: the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall where the community gathers and a small Catholic chapel beside it.

I spotted some round plaques in the sidewalk and images on tile on the hall’s exterior during my walk beside these two buildings. They provide a small taste of Little Portugal’s history. I thought you might enjoy taking a look at a few of them.

Small Catholic chapel in Point Loma, in a neighborhood sometimes called Little Portugal.
Small Catholic chapel in Point Loma, in a neighborhood sometimes referred to as Little Portugal.
Front of the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall on a sunny San Diego day.
Front of the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall on a sunny San Diego day.
Plaque in the sidewalk is a Tribute to our Immigrants. Determination, hard work and strength of character are only a few of the gifts you have given us.
Plaque in the sidewalk is a Tribute to our Immigrants. Determination, hard work and strength of character are only a few of the gifts you have given us.
In admiration of their loyalty and commitment to the Fishing Industry and never ending support of our Portuguese Community.
In admiration of their loyalty and commitment to the Fishing Industry and never ending support of our Portuguese Community.
Age of Exploration. In thoughtful memory of God and our parents who so successfully contributed to our Festas do Espirito Santo, the tuna industry and our lives in America.
Age of Exploration. In thoughtful memory of God and our parents who so successfully contributed to our Festas do Espirito Santo, the tuna industry and our lives in America.
The flag of Portugal flies proudly in San Diego near Shelter Island.
The flag of Portugal flies proudly in San Diego near Shelter Island.
Map of the island of Madeira and image of Santo Amaro.
Map of the island of Madeira and image of Santo Amaro.
Image of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador and his statue at Cabrillo National Monument, a gift from the government of Portugal. Exploring on behalf of Spain, Cabrillo was Portuguese.
Image of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador and his statue at Cabrillo National Monument, a gift from the government of Portugal. Exploring on behalf of Spain, Cabrillo was Portuguese.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!