A joyful celebration of Christmas in San Diego!

Second grade students from Dailard Elementary School fill Balboa Park with joyous song during 2018 Christmas on the Prado.
Second grade students from Dailard Elementary School fill Balboa Park with joyous song during 2018 Christmas on the Prado.

If you love Christmas and happen to be in San Diego this Sunday afternoon, head over to Balboa Park! It’s the second day of Christmas on the Prado!

The 5th Annual Children’s Coalition “Christmas on the Prado” will be held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and International Cottages from 1 – 4 pm, and will feature a special Christmas Concert by Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, lots of holiday treats, inspiring scenes of the Nativity, games and crafts for kids, cultural displays of Christmas Around the World, a reading of The Night Before Christmas by Mrs. Claus, and photos with good old Saint Nick himself!

Christmas on the Prado is a joyful two day holiday event that celebrates the birth of Christ and the generous spirit of Christmas.

Click here to learn more. (Christmas on the Prado continues to grow every year–but they can always use more volunteers and participants! I learned that church groups from all around San Diego are welcomed to come together and join the program! Why not?)

Yesterday I experienced the first day of this year’s event.

Here are some photographs . . .

Mrs. Claus greeted me in the early afternoon as Christmas on the Prado got underway.
Mrs. Claus greeted me in the early afternoon as Christmas on the Prado got underway.
Looking at eight beautiful scenes of the Nativity created by the Community Christmas Center, which was established in 1953 in Balboa Park.
Looking at eight beautiful scenes of the Nativity created by the Community Christmas Center, which was established in 1953 in Balboa Park.
Child is awed by a visiting angel.
Child sees a visiting angel.
Elsewhere in the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa confers with an elf before a photo is taken.
Elsewhere in the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa confers with an elf before a photo is taken.
Dozens of happy elves would be first to perform on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Dozens of happy, energetic elves would be first to perform on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Young singers from Dailard Elementary School treat the crowd to fun holiday music.
Young singers from Dailard Elementary School treat the crowd to fun holiday music.
The nearby International Cottages were celebrating Christmas Around the World. This beautiful creche in the Hall of Nations is from Peru.
The nearby International Cottages were celebrating Christmas Around the World. This beautiful creche in the Hall of Nations is from Peru.
These fun Christmas crafts were on display in the House of Sweden's cottage.
These fun Christmas crafts were on display in the House of Sweden’s cottage.
Christmas baskets made of paper and many hands inside the House of Norway's cottage.
Christmas baskets made of paper by many hands inside the House of Norway’s cottage.
The House of Hungary had their very beautiful Christmas sparkling for all to enjoy.
The House of Hungary had their very beautiful Christmas sparkling for all to enjoy.
The House of England was hoping that Father Christmas would Please Stop Here.
The House of England was hoping that Father Christmas would Please Stop Here.
Members of the House of Ireland prepare to sing among the International Cottages during Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
Members of the House of Ireland prepare to sing among the International Cottages during Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.
A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.
Back at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the super talented group Chamber Bravura performs. They've sung several times at Carnegie Hall!
Back at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the super talented group Chamber Bravura performs. They’ve sung several times at Carnegie Hall!
Chamber Bravura lifts hearts with Christmas song, combining popular carols with unexpected moments of humor.
Chamber Bravura lifts hearts with Christmas song, combining popular carols with unexpected bits of silly humor.
Jumping for treats at the Gingerbread House.
Jumping for treats at the Gingerbread House.
The Kearny Mesa Concert Band is almost ready to perform as the magical Spreckels Organ Pavilion lights come on.
The Kearny Mesa Concert Band is almost ready to perform as the magical Spreckels Organ Pavilion lights come on.
Lights also come on in the Nativity scenes. A beautiful depiction of Mary and Joseph with the Christ child, escaping to Egypt.
Lights also come on in the Nativity scenes. A beautiful depiction of Mary and Joseph with the Christ child, escaping to Egypt.
Jesus with the little children. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Jesus with the little children. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
More happy elves take the stage for a Christmas sing-along.
More happy elves take the stage for a Christmas sing-along.
The Sun Harbor Chorus Elves had many in the audience singing, clapping and ringing bells.
The Sun Harbor Chorus Elves had many in the audience singing, clapping and ringing bells.
The nose of an elf named Faith was getting cold, so Santa took a mini-Santa hat off the tree and put it on her nose. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
The nose of an elf named Faith was getting cold, so Santa took a mini-Santa hat off the tree and put it on her nose. Photo courtesy Bill Swank. (Thank you!)

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The triumphant return of the Spreckels Organ!

The amazing Spreckels Organ, largest outdoor musical instrument in the world and the joyful lungs of Balboa Park, made its triumphant return today!

After six weeks of silence because of a broken motor on the main blower, the Spreckels Organ is once again producing fantastic music, with a little help from San Diego’s world-famous Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

Raul began today’s concert with Johann Sebastian Bach’s powerful Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The talented San Diego Children’s Choir then took the stage to perform a variety of classical songs, including Franz Schubert’s moving Ave Maria.

To honor Veterans Day, Raul concluded the program by playing three John Philip Sousa compositions: Semper Fidelis, In Memoriam, and Stars and Stripes Forever.

In a troubled world where the flag often flies at half-staff, this Sunday we were reminded that human good can prevail. With a little dedication any broken instrument in this world–even the mighty Spreckels Organ–can be repaired.

I saw many smiles in the sunshine.

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!

Scenes at Spreckels Organ on Silent Movie Night.

People gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of Silent Movie Night.
People begin to gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of the Silent Movie Night concert.

This evening I headed into Balboa Park to enjoy Silent Movie Night at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. This special annual event, featuring a silent movie accompanied by the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, is part of every International Summer Organ Festival.

The organist this evening–for the second year in a row–was Steven Ball, who plays the world’s largest indoor pipe organ at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Among his many accomplishments, he might be best known for being the organist at the Miss America beauty pageant!

The hilarious movie tonight was Safety Last (1923), starring physical comedy genius Harold Lloyd, who ranks with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular silent movie stars. I was interested to learn Harold Lloyd graduated from San Diego High School, which is located in Balboa Park, less than a mile from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

About an hour before the concert, I watched people arrive and claim their spots around the pavilion. Unable to sit still that long, I spent a few minutes wandering around nearby areas of Balboa Park, photographing the sun’s last rays in trees and on beautiful buildings.

The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball, including Hooray for Hollywood. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world's top organists.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world’s top organists.
Safety Last, 1923, is a comedy that features silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Safety Last, 1923, is a hilarious, crazy, heartwarming comedy that features popular silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
As late light illuminated the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about to take photos. Here's the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
As late sunlight slanted onto the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about taking a few photos. Here’s the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
Here's the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here’s the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here's the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
Here’s the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
When I returned, the crowd had grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws about 3000 people.
When I returned, the crowd had really grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws somewhere around 3000 people.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! As twilight arrived in Balboa Park, I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.

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!

Photos of Navy Band Southwest Alumni Concert.

I enjoyed another special event today during my visit to Balboa Park. As I walked past the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I was surprised and happy to learn there would be a Navy Band Southwest Alumni Concert in the afternoon.

When I returned to the pavilion to listen to the concert, many present and past members of Navy Band Southwest were posing for a group photo by the colonnade. The concert soon began, and I snapped a few photos as I listened to the often rousing music, played with perfect precision.

All stood for the National Anthem. A few minutes later those braving the hot sun directly in front of the stage were privileged to hear an extremely talented duet sing a superb rendition of The Prayer by David Foster. What amazing voices. Personally, I got goosebumps. Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli have nothing on those two!

I’m sorry to say Cool San Diego Sights does not feature sound. But here are a few photos!

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!

First Responders to be honored in Little Italy.

First Responders in San Diego will be celebrated this Saturday, August 4th in Little Italy. The event will be held in Piazza Della Famiglia beginning at 5pm, and a special concert at 6pm will feature Marine Band San Diego.

This morning as I walked through Little Italy, I happened to see several banners stretched above the piazza honoring our community’s First Responders, including our Lifeguards, Sheriff, Firefighters and Police.

A big thank you to all of our heroes!

Sailboats, sunshine, and the Commodores!

The Commodores do a sound check before their evening performance at Bayside Summer Nights.
The Commodores do a sound check before their evening performance at Bayside Summer Nights.

Adventures all over today, including walks in La Mesa and Logan Heights.

The best came near the end. I just happened to arrive at Embarcadero Marina Park South as the legendary Motown group Commodores began their sound check for this evening’s Bayside Summer Nights concert. It was like a free “concert” for myself and a few lucky others.

The Commodores have provided so many good moments and memories in my life. Their stirring music has such strong rhythm and heart. Soul, defined. When you listen, you smile, then you start singing too.

Night Shift. Lady (You Bring Me Up). Easy.

I heard bits and pieces of them all.

And in the near distance, sailboats and sunshine on San Diego Bay.

Yes, life is good.

Getting the chairs ready for an outdoor concert on San Diego Bay.
Getting the chairs ready for an outdoor concert on San Diego Bay.
A sailboat tacks. I could hear the sails flapping.
A sailboat tacks. I could hear the sails flapping.
The Commodores on stage produce their legendary magic.
The Commodores on stage produce their legendary magic.
Beauty nearby.
Sunshine and sails. Easy like Saturday afternoon.
Life is good.
Life is good.

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!

Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua in Balboa Park!

Legendary musician Oscar Amezcua performs on stage with his sons during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park.
Legendary musician Oscar Amezcua performs on stage with his sons during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park.

What a treat! This evening I got to listen to legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua perform in a special Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park!

Along with stirring performances by the City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble, Jarabe Mexicano and the really outstanding SDSU Jazz Ensemble, Oscar Amezcua wowed the crowd with his passionate voice and irrepressible personality! Two standing ovations were well-earned!

The 87-year-old musical legend has performed for American presidents, dignitaries and countless adoring fans. It’s no mystery why he is loved by so many. Life sparkles in his eyes. His timeless voice comes directly from the heart.

A free concert in Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo featured beloved, world-famous Mariachi Leader Don Oscar Amezcua.
A free concert in Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo featured beloved, world-famous Mariachi Leader Don Oscar Amezcua.
Donation box for the Kiwanis Club of San Diego, who along with the SDSU School of Music and Dance presented the special Cinco de Mayo Concert in the Park. Kiwanis has provided many scholarships for SDSU students.
Donation box for the Kiwanis Club of San Diego, who along with the SDSU School of Music and Dance presented the special Cinco de Mayo Concert in the Park. Over the years Kiwanis has provided many generous scholarships for SDSU students.
Event emcee Carlos Amezcua, son of Oscar Amezcua, and his KUSI Good Morning San Diego co-host Lisa Remillard get the program started with a few words.
Event emcee Carlos Amezcua, son of Oscar Amezcua, and his KUSI Good Morning San Diego co-host Lisa Remillard get the program started with a few words.
Kevin Lomes sings Granada, with a powerful voice that deeply moved the audience.
Kevin Lomes sings Granada with a powerful voice that deeply moved the audience.
Art Stillwell of the San Diego Kiwanis Club remembers benefactor Bill Gibbs by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl.
Art Stillwell of the San Diego Kiwanis Club remembers benefactor Bill Gibbs by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl.
The City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble plays for the large crowd.
The City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble plays for the large crowd.
Oscar Amezcua comes onto the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, introduced by his popular journalist son Carlos.
Oscar Amezcua comes onto the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, introduced by his popular journalist son Carlos.
Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to San Diego in 1945 and proceeded to make musical history.
Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to San Diego in 1945 and proceeded to make music history.
The ageless Oscar Amezcua sings. The mariachi music full of vigor and joy.
The ageless Oscar Amezcua sings. Mariachi music is full of vigor, passion and joy.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer presents a plaque. May 5, 2017 is officially Oscar Amezcua Day.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer presents a plaque. May 5, 2017 is officially Oscar Amezcua Day.
Oscar, his three sons and daughter perform together while his wife watched from the audience. I saw some tears. A moment in history.
Oscar, his three sons and daughter on stage together. I saw some tears. A moment in history.
People can't help dancing.
People can’t help dancing.
Love of life. Pure and simple.
Love of life. Pure and simple.

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