Old Town San Diego and Día de los Muertos.

Día de los Muertos special event at Bazaar del Mundo is filled with color.
Día de los Muertos displays at Bazaar del Mundo are filled with life and color.

Día de los Muertos, also called Day of the Dead, is a popular holiday in Mexico and in many other cultures around the world. It’s a celebration that honors the memories and spirits of loved ones who have passed away. It closely follows Halloween, a holiday that is similar but actually quite different. Día de los Muertos, rich with images of skeletons and decorated skulls, is neither scary nor morbid; it is joyous!

This weekend, Old Town hosted its annual Day of the Dead special event. Altars, costumes and other sights that are common during the holiday could be found throughout the park and surrounding area. I took lots of photos!

Día de los Muertos altar at Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town, San Diego.
Día de los Muertos altar at Bazaar del Mundo in a corner of Old Town, San Diego.
Kids decorate sugar skulls, a fun tradition of Day of the Dead.
Kids decorate sugar skulls, a fun and tasty tradition of Day of the Dead.
Ethnic and folk crafts and ornaments are abundant at Bazaar del Mundo.
Ethnic and folk crafts are abundant at Bazaar del Mundo.
Young lady has face painted to celebrate Día de los Muertos.
Young lady has face painted to celebrate Día de los Muertos.
Image of woman skeleton in old-fashioned purple hat and dress.
A traditional Catrina. A female skeleton in old-fashioned hat and dress.
Altar at Fiesta de Reyes features Virgin Mary and photos of departed loved ones.
Altar at Fiesta de Reyes features Virgin Mary and photos of departed loved ones.
Fantastic sign above pumpkin shows lively, dancing skeletons.
Fantastic sign above pumpkin shows lively, dancing skeletons.
Lady in San Diego's Old Town arranges bright frilly flowers in the sun.
Lady working in San Diego’s Old Town arranges bright frilly flowers in the sun.
Folk dancers on and off stage at Fiesta de Reyes during Día de los Muertos.
Folk dancers on and off stage at Fiesta de Reyes during Día de los Muertos.
This scarecrow and skeleton seem happy together!
This scarecrow and skeleton seem happy together on this perfect Autumn day!
Bench at Fiesta de Reyes painted with sombrero-wearing, flower-bearing skeletons.
Bench at Fiesta de Reyes painted with sombrero-wearing, flower-bearing skeletons.
Small image in crude wooden frame in a larger altar.
Small crowned image in crude wooden frame in a larger altar.
Radiant image of Virgin Mary on wood above altar candles.
Prayers are directed toward radiant image of Virgin Mary above altar candles.
Altars often contain food liked by the deceased, to entice their spirits.
Altars often contain food liked by the deceased, to entice their spirits back.
Mariachi skeletons strum guitars at entrance to Fiesta de Reyes.
Mariachi skeletons strum guitars at entrance to Fiesta de Reyes.
This big flower and heart-covered skull faces Old Town's central square.
This big flower and heart-covered calavera faces Old Town’s central square.
Larger-than-life Day of the Dead mannequin wears a beautiful red dress.
Larger-than-life Day of the Dead mannequin wears a beautiful red dress.
Dead couple sits in lobby of Old Town's historic Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Dead couple sits in lobby of Old Town’s historic Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Bartender offers drink to skeleton cowboy at the Cosmopolitan Hotel's bar!
Bartender offers drink to skeleton cowboy at the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s bar!
The bony fellow at the bar was called Calaca McAlvarez!
The bony fellow at the bar was called Calaca McAlvarez!
Stylish but dead bystander is resting near one of the many Old Town shops.
Stylish bystander is resting near one of the many Old Town shops.
Musician entertains at Old Town's Day of the Dead festivities.
Musician entertains on pipes at Old Town’s Day of the Dead festivities.
Día de los Muertos display with a strong Mexican flavor.
Día de los Muertos display with a strong Mexican flavor.
Photographs remember loved ones who have passed into the spirit world after death.
Photographs remember loved ones who have passed into the spirit world after death.
Snow White has been transformed into lavish Day of the Dead artwork.
Snow White has been transformed into lavish Day of the Dead artwork.
This guy is sitting on a wagon near popular entrance to Old Town State Historic Park.
This guy is sitting on a wagon near popular entrance to Old Town State Historic Park.
Sculptor recreates face of living tourist posing for a unique souvenir.
Sculptor recreates face of living tourist posing for a unique souvenir.
Prints on display for the big crowds attending Old Town's Day of the Dead.
Prints on display for the big crowds attending Old Town’s Day of the Dead.
This elegant couple was spotted among the many historic buildings in Old Town.
This elegant couple was spotted among the many historic buildings in Old Town.
This well-dressed family all had their faces painted to resemble skulls!
This well-dressed family all had their faces painted to resemble skulls!
Author A. B. Curtiss was signing her acclaimed books at Día de los Muertos.
Author A. B. Curtiss was signing her acclaimed books at Día de los Muertos.

Please check out her website!

Cool, astonishing sights popped up wherever I turned!
Cool, astonishing sights popped up wherever I turned!

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Festival recreates landing of explorer Cabrillo.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay for Spain in 1542.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay for Spain in 1542.

San Diego’s 51st Annual Cabrillo Festival was held today. Taking place at Ballast Point near the south end of Naval Base Point Loma, the event allowed the public to view a reenactment of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s entrance into San Diego Bay in 1542. Cabrillo, born in Portugal, commanded his voyage of discovery on behalf of Spain, sailing the galleon San Salvador up the west coast of America.

In addition to the colorful reenactment, the festival included a short ceremony, speeches, costumes, National Park exhibits, food and dance provided by various cultural groups, and just a lot of interesting local history. I took some photographs. Here they are!

Visitors to the 51st Annual Cabrillo Festival await recreation of historic event.
Visitors to the 51st Annual Cabrillo Festival await reenactment of historic event.
People gather above the small beach at Ballast Point on Naval Base Point Loma.
People gather above the small beach at Ballast Point on Naval Base Point Loma.
As people await a rowboat full of reenactors, event commentary is provided.
As people await a rowboat full of reenactors, event commentary is provided.

A short walk out to a point beside the bay provided a view of the San Diego Maritime Museum’s tall ship Californian, which portrayed Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador.

Tall ship Californian, in the distance, serves as Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador.
Tall ship Californian, in the distance, serves during event as Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador.

I took pictures of two signs by the above fenced archeological site…

Sign at Ballast Point tells about archeological site of old Spanish whaling station.
Sign at Ballast Point tells about archeological site of old Spanish whaling station.
Stones and tiles are remains of an old tryworks oven where whale oil was boiled.
Stones and tiles are remains of an old tryworks oven where whale oil was boiled.

I headed back to the gathered crowd to await the main event…

Here comes the row boat containing explorer Cabrillo, a priest and crew members.
Here comes the rowboat containing explorer Cabrillo, a priest and crew members.
People watching the historical recreation are snapping photos like crazy now.
People watching this recreation of history are snapping photos like crazy.
Cabrillo leaps from the galleon's small boat onto the shore!
Cabrillo leaps from the galleon’s small boat onto the shore!
Cabrillo in armor raises his sword, while priest with cross stands behind him.
Cabrillo in armor raises his sword, while priest with cross stands behind him.
Cabrillo now plants a Spanish Cross of Burgundy flag on soil of New World.
Cabrillo now plants a Spanish Cross of Burgundy flag on soil of New World.
A proclamation is read on behalf of Spain by Portuguese explorer Cabrillo.
A proclamation is read on behalf of Spain by Portuguese explorer Cabrillo.
Actors depart the narrow beach and head up to join the onlookers.
Actors depart the narrow beach and head up to join the onlookers.
Kids pose with a modern day version of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.
Kids pose with a modern day version of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.
Many folks in costume were in the big crowd!
Many folks in costume were in the big crowd!
Navy honor guard prepares for anthems of four nations and a moment of silence.
Navy honor guard prepares for anthems of four nations and a moment of silence.
Making an adjustment to costume from the Old World centuries ago.
Making an adjustment to costume from the Old World centuries ago.
Anthems were played for Spain, Portugal, Mexico and the United States.
Anthems were played for Spain, Portugal, Mexico and the United States.

In addition to the four national anthems, a moment of silence honored the Native American Kumeyaay, who lived in this area long before Europeans arrived. Cabrillo spent a few days anchored in today’s San Diego Bay, a place he originally named San Miguel. He took on fresh water and traded with the native Kumeyaay people that he met.

People watch with interest during the short ceremony that included several speeches.
People watch with interest during the short ceremony that included several speeches.
Several beauty queens appear on stage and smile for everyone.
Several beauty queens appear on stage and smile for everyone.
Exhibits included various parts of Spanish conquistador armor.
Exhibits included various parts of Spanish conquistador armor.
Small boy tries on a surprisingly heavy steel helmet.
Small boy tries on a surprisingly heavy steel helmet.
Chainmail was being twisted with an apparatus at the end of this table.
Chainmail was being twisted with an apparatus at the end of this table.
Biscuits, nuts and an astrolabe are typical items carried on a Spanish galleon.
Biscuits, nuts and an astrolabe are typical items carried on a Spanish galleon.
Scouts demonstrate rope making with an interesting machine.
Scouts demonstrate rope making with an interesting machine.
Friendly lady was making woolen caps to be worn under those heavy steel helmets!
Friendly lady was making woolen caps to be worn under those heavy steel helmets!

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San Diego’s annual Sicilian Festival in Little Italy.

Sicilian Festival dignitaries parade flags down India Street.
Sicilian Festival dignitaries parade flags down India Street.

I took an enjoyable walk today. San Diego’s heat wave has ended and this weekend was perfect. The best part of my walk was just wandering randomly through Little Italy’s annual Sicilian Festival. India Street was streaming with crowds enjoying Italian food, romantic music, art, history and several blocks jammed with colorful sights. I devoured some yummy pizza and spoke with a few interesting people.

Here are a few cool pics!

Tuscany Italian tablecloths line a vendor's tent.
Tuscany Italian tablecloths line a vendor’s tent.
Italian food up and down India Street smelled great!
Italian and other food up and down India Street smelled great!
Wagon painted with colorful scenes of Medieval chivalry.
Wagon painted with colorful scenes of Medieval chivalry.
Sharing his Sicilian legacy from past generations.
Sharing his Sicilian legacy from past generations.

One block was devoted to Sicilian culture and the history of San Diego’s Little Italy. Several interesting people were sharing their own stories.

Local novelist Corey Lynn Fayman sold some books!
Local novelist Corey Lynn Fayman sold some books!

Local author Corey Lynn Fayman sold me his novel Border Field Blues. It’s a detective story set at the Mexican border. I’ve read a few pages and so far it’s great!

Jim Bregante shares his childhood experience of the waterfront.
Jim Bregante shares his childhood memories of the waterfront.

I caught the last few minutes of Jim Bregante’s historical presentation, called San Diego’s Waterfront through the Eyes of a Child. He was remembering the colorful nicknames of the local Italians that he knew when he was young. I wish I’d heard his entire talk! What a great treasure trove of historical memories. Other people in other places should follow his example!

What Italian fishermen used to catch off San Diego.
What Italian fishermen used to catch off San Diego.
Many old photos of tuna fishermen from Little Italy.
Many old photos of tuna fishermen from Little Italy.
Crushing grapes was part of the Sicilian Festival!
Crushing grapes was part of the Sicilian Festival!
Various musicians played the accordion.
Various musicians played the accordion.
Banner shows Italian Padres player Chris Denorfia.
Banner shows Padres player Chris Denorfia.
Some kids had an awesome bungee experience!
Some kids had an awesome bungee experience!
The frantic pasta eating contest is underway.
The frantic pasta eating contest is underway.
The sauce-faced winner raises his arms in triumph!
The sauce-faced winner raises his arms in triumph!

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Festa fun in San Diego’s Little Italy!

a crowd enjoys festa in little italy

Okay, here come some pics from my stroll through Festa today. This popular festival featured food, entertainment and lots of art. It took place in Little Italy, a neighborhood in the north part of downtown San Diego, once populated largely by Italian fisherman who worked in the local tuna fleet. But that was decades ago. The streets today are lined mostly with condos, restaurants and shops.

checking out some italian stuff at festa

Thousands of San Diegans turned out for the celebration. There were plenty of tents filled with crafts, clothing, toys, jewelry–just about anything you could imagine. Almost all of it was Italian-themed.

musicians perform at festa in san diego

Musical performers could be heard everywhere, entertaining the crowd from several stages. There was much romantic Italian music–and I even heard a bit of opera!

festa artist sets up some paintings

This lady is setting up some paintings behind a Little Italy fountain.

festa artwork around little italy fountain

I saw this really cool sculpture (and a number of others) beside the same fountain. All sorts of interesting elements are in this photograph!

italian food galore at little italy's festa

Italian food could be found (and smelled) wherever one turned! I enjoyed a slice of pizza!

musician plays accordion at italian festa

Smilin’ Jack performed with his accordion! That’s just a small taste of Festa!