Photos of Las Posadas Celebration in Old Town.

The Dickens Carolers sing during the annual Las Posadas event in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
The Dickens Carolers sing during the annual Las Posadas event in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

This afternoon I headed to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to experience the annual Las Posadas Celebration. There were many families in the park enjoying all sorts of holiday activities, gazing at beautiful decorations, and preparing to witness the reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter before the birth of Jesus.

Las Posadas is a Christmas tradition cherished by many Latinos and Spaniards. A candlelight procession after nightfall by members of the community symbolizes the Nativity. Angels and shepherds join along the way. Mary rides a live donkey. There is much joyful singing.

My camera is inadequate after dark. To see (and hear) tonight’s procession in Old Town, you’ll have to use your imagination.

The 67th Annual Las Posadas Celebration in Old Town celebrates rich holiday traditions. A candlelight procession after dark reenacted the journey of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus.
The 67th Annual Las Posadas Celebration in Old Town celebrated a rich holiday tradition. A candlelight procession after dark reenacted the journey of Mary and Joseph in search of shelter before the birth of Jesus.
As evening approaches, paper bag luminaries containing candles are placed around the central Plaza de Las Armas.
As evening approaches, paper bag luminaries containing candles are placed around the central Plaza de las Armas.
A big festive Christmas tree stands near the plaza's center, beside the tall flagpole.
A big festive Christmas tree stands near the plaza’s center, beside the tall flagpole.
Looking out the front door of the Casa de Estudillo at Old Town San Diego's big Christmas tree.
Looking out the front door of the Casa de Estudillo at Old Town San Diego’s big Christmas tree.
A shiny star-like pinata hangs in front of the Colorado House.
A shiny star-like pinata hangs in front of the Colorado House. This is where the holiday celebration would reach its joyful climax.
Santa wishes everyone a Merry little Christmas inside Toby's Candle and Soap Shop.
Santa wishes everyone a Merry little Christmas inside Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop.
A colorful holiday wagon containing red poinsettias is parked outside Toby's Candle and Soap Shop.
A colorful holiday wagon containing red poinsettias is parked outside Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop.
Kids activities during Las Posadas included making Christmas tree ornaments.
Kids activities during Las Posadas included making Christmas tree ornaments.
This holiday wreath is decorated with spools of thread! It hangs on a door at Threads of the Past.
This holiday wreath is decorated with spools of thread! It hangs on a door at Threads of the Past.
A big wreath adds holiday cheer to the sunlit Seeley Stable Museum barn.
A big wreath adds holiday cheer to the sunlit Seeley Stable Museum barn.
As daylight wanes, families congregate around a campfire and roast marshmallows for s'mores.
As daylight wanes, families congregate around a campfire and roast marshmallows for s’mores.
A special holiday display inside the Robinson-Rose Visitor Center talks about Louis Rose, the first Jewish person to settle in San Diego.
A special display inside the Robinson-Rose Visitor Center describes the life of Louis Rose, the first Jewish person to settle in San Diego.
Reenacting a Hanukkah Candle Lighting Blessing inside the historic Robinson-Rose Visitor Center.
Reenacting a Hanukkah Candle Lighting Blessing inside the historic Robinson-Rose Visitor Center.

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!

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Downtown visions and the passage of time.

A few dead leaves cling to branches that frame a new skyscraper in downtown San Diego.
A few dead leaves cling to branches that frame a new skyscraper.

The days pass by.

Memories gather . . . slowly fade.

Whenever I walk downtown, I see visions right and left of what is old and what is new. It’s often hard to remember how and when those visions first appeared.

I suppose the passage of time makes every walk a completely new adventure. Always new surprises, new mysteries, new beauty to discover.

Here are a few photos of my walk through downtown San Diego this morning.

Every time I walk near Seaport Village, my eyes pass different buskers and an ever-changing vision of art.
Every time I walk near Seaport Village, my eyes pass different buskers and an ever-changing gallery of art.
A beautiful feather and I meet for a moment.
A beautiful windblown feather and I meet for a moment.
Removing what is discarded and unwanted.
Removing what is discarded and unwanted.
A fountain near the entrance of San Diego's Old Police Headquarters, now a destination for shopping and dining. I visited the building decades ago in the 1980s. I suppose the fountain is original, but I cannot remember.
A fountain near the entrance of San Diego’s Old Police Headquarters, now a destination for shopping and dining. I visited this building decades ago. I suppose the fountain is original, but I cannot remember.
A colorful bird painted on a utility box near Pantoja Park seems just as alive as it was when I first saw it years ago.
A colorful bird painted on a utility box near Pantoja Park seems just as alive as when I first saw it years ago.
Dying leaves turn to the same color as new paint.
Dying leaves turn to the same color as new paint.
A sculpture titled Flame Flower stands in front of the Westin Gaslamp. Years ago, an obelisk once rose here--5 or 6 or 7 years ago. I can't remember exactly.
A sculpture titled Flame Flower stands in front of the Westin Gaslamp. Years ago an obelisk rose here–5 or 6 or 7 years ago. I can’t remember.
Old bricks of a Gaslamp building have been patched.
These bricks of a Gaslamp building appear to have been patched long ago.
A once fashionable and new car turns to rust.
A once fashionable car turns to rust.
Every so often entrances to the Gaslamp's subterranean clubs are painted with intriguing new artwork.
Every so often entrances to the Gaslamp’s subterranean clubs are painted with intriguing new artwork.
The building on Broadway that was home to Superfly West Tattoos is being demolished to make room for a new downtown high-rise condo development.
The building on Broadway that was home to Superfly West Tattoos is being demolished to make room for a new downtown high-rise condo development.
The front of the YWCA building on C Street has remained unchanged since its design in 1926. The ornate Spanish Colonial Revival architecture was made popular by the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
The front of the YWCA building on C Street has remained unchanged since its design in 1926. The ornate Spanish Colonial Revival architecture was made popular by the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
Shoveling weathered stones. Wheeling them about.
Shoveling weathered stones. Wheeling them about.
Another walk through the city as time moves forward.
Another walk through the city as time moves forward.

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!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Boy Scouts improve Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

Over the past year and a half, some amazing young men have been working to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. These community-minded Boy Scouts, with the help of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have undertaken projects in the historic grove in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

You might remember the photos that I posted of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. It’s tucked away in a corner of Florida Canyon, not far from Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. The 66 live oak trees were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors killed on the USS Bennington on July 21st of that year. The gunboat’s boiler exploded while it was in San Diego Bay, and many men tragically perished.

The efforts of these hardworking Boy Scouts have added beauty, safety and memory to the old oak grove. Four have successfully become Eagle Scouts. They are Joshua Ortega, Sam Kinsey, Frederick Persons and Erik Ortlieb. The projects of two other young men are now underway. Those Scouts are Maxwell Thomson and Preston Buljat.

Most of these photographs have been contributed by local historian Kathleen Winchester. She and other members of the DAR’s San Diego Chapter have been instrumental in providing coordination and encouragement as the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove is improved. Please read the photo captions to appreciate the unselfish work of these young men.

I have learned the grove’s kiosk will eventually contain the names of those who perished aboard the USS Bennington. And very soon a flagpole will be raised in the grove-the project of Preston Buljat.

In 2014, the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of Balboa Park as part of the latter’s “Adopt-A-Plot” program and adopted the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

The local DAR intends to purchase more oak trees to replace dead ones. If anyone wants to help with this worthy endeavor, contact the San Diego Chapter of DAR. All contributed funds will go straight to the purchase of trees.

As you can see in a few of the photos, U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego homeported aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have also lent a hand. Their involvement is especially meaningful as Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States in 1905 when the USS Bennington disaster occured. President Roosevelt was a conservationist who would have loved this shady grove of majestic oaks.

The sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, by helping to beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honored their fellow seamen from an earlier time.

The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
The oak grove's entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
The oak grove’s entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by the sign he built on October 16, 2016. It welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by a post of the wooden sign he built on October 16, 2016. The sign welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project - Joshua R. Ortega - Troop 299 - June 2016.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project – Joshua R. Ortega – Troop 299 – June 2016.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the revitalized USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on!
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on! Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

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!

Mormon Battalion Commemoration coming in January!

The annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day is coming to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park on January 27, 2018.

Anyone interested in the long march of the Mormon Battalion from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego and their important contributions to our city’s early history should put the event on their calendar!

I’ve been informed by the commemoration day organizer that entertainment will include a Native American dance group featuring drums and singers, some colorful ballet folklorico dancers, and an old time fiddler’s group!

To get a taste of the many interesting things you might see, view photos of past Mormon Battalion Commemoration Days here and here!

I recently finished writing a short story about generosity and the true spirit of Christmas. To read it, click here!

A mysterious, castle-like downtown building.

In downtown San Diego at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Ash Street you’ll find a very mysterious building. At first glance it appears to be a Gothic manor, or the corner of an impenetrable stone castle. Stranger still, a small shield on the building’s exterior includes the word GAS. Is this the castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, from which gas is expelled in your general direction? No–it’s a power substation of San Diego Gas and Electric!

The secure little building was designed by prominent architect Richard Requa in 1922, who would go on to become Master Architect for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.

My imagination is always electrified when I walk past this unusual sight. Is a Frankenstein monster being assembled behind those dark walls?

Here are some 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!

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!

A new deck for the beautiful HMS Surprise!

The main deck of HMS Surprise is being replaced at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
The main deck of HMS Surprise is being replaced at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

The HMS Surprise at the Maritime Museum of San Diego is getting a brand new deck! During my Sunday visit I noticed that replacement of the old deck is well underway!

Volunteers at the museum are applying the same methods and materials that were used so successfully to replace the deck of Star of India. I was told the main deck of HMS Surprise should be finished in about four months, and then the ship’s rigging will undergo an overhaul. Once all of that is complete, this beautiful replica of a 18th century Royal Navy 24-gun frigate should be ready to sail.

It’s hoped all the work will be complete in time for next year’s Festival of Sail!

As you might recall, this amazing ship co-starred with Russell Crowe in the acclaimed movie Master and Commander!

Museum volunteers work aboard HMS Surprise on a pleasant Sunday. Cables from the ship's rigging are readied, as a section of new deck is caulked.
Museum volunteers work aboard HMS Surprise on a pleasant Sunday. Cables from the ship’s rigging are readied, as a section of new deck is caulked.
Elsewhere at the Maritime Museum, a volunteer adds paint to a newly acquired Jacob's ladder for the San Salvador replica Spanish galleon.
Elsewhere at the Maritime Museum, a volunteer adds paint to a newly acquired Jacob’s ladder. It will be used on the San Salvador replica Spanish galleon.
The ship's wheel has been removed and set to one side as the deck of the HMS Surprise is replaced.
The enormous ship’s wheel has been removed and set to one side as the deck of the HMS Surprise is replaced.

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!

Baseball flags debut at historic Lane Field Park!

Two of three huge banners that celebrate the history of baseball at San Diego's Lane Field. On the left you can see Ted Williams, one of the greatest Major League Baseball hitters of all time, taking a swing.
Two of three huge flags that celebrate the history of baseball at San Diego’s old Lane Field. On the left you can see Ted Williams, one of the greatest Major League Baseball hitters of all time, taking a swing.

Three huge, colorful flags will soon be flying above Lane Field Park. They were created by local artist Lisa Schirmer in a coordinated effort between the Port of San Diego and the Hensel-Phelps Construction Company. They celebrate the history of baseball at Lane Field.

The vivid banners, which Lisa calls windglyphs, are titled Spirits of the West Wind. They feature two images of baseball legend Ted Williams and one of Eddie Erautt. Both played baseball at long-vanished Lane Field, which was located in downtown San Diego right next to the water.

Ted Williams was perhaps the greatest Major League hitter of all time. The baseball legend was born in San Diego. Early in his baseball career he played for the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres at Lane Field, helping his team win the PCL pennant in 1937.

Eddie Erautt pitched three and a half seasons for the PCL San Diego Padres. He went 16-12 in 1954 when the Padres were PCL champions and 18-10 in 1955.

Images of the players on two windglyphs were based on photographs in Bill Swank’s book Echoes from Lane Field.

I love how large, bright and colorful these flags are, and how they celebrate an important page in San Diego baseball history. Bill Swank says the way they billow reminds him how the wind would blow off San Diego Bay and carry home runs over the right field wall of Lane Field, to bounce onto Pacific Highway. Many great memories where made here.

This Wednesday, there will be an official unveiling of the colorful banners at 8:30 am. I was fortunate to get a preview today, during a flag-raising rehearsal for the coming event.

Enjoy some photos!

Three colorful windglyphs created by San Diego artist Lisa Schirmer fly above Lane Field Park.
Three colorful windglyphs created by San Diego artist Lisa Schirmer fly above Lane Field Park.
Rehearsal of a flag raising. The public art unveiling ceremony takes place later this week. That unfurled banner shows Ted Williams fielding a ball. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Rehearsal of a flag raising. The public art unveiling ceremony takes place later this week. That unfurled banner shows Ted Williams fielding a ball. Artist Lisa Schirmer stands on the left. Photo courtesy of Bill Swank.
Local baseball expert Bill Swank shows his book Echoes from Lane Field, which recounts the early years of San Diego baseball and the Padres.
Local baseball expert Bill Swank shows his book Echoes from Lane Field, which recounts the early years of San Diego baseball and the Padres.
The banner depicting pitcher Eddie Erautt is based on one of these old baseball photos.
The banner depicting pitcher Eddie Erautt is based on one of these old baseball photos.
On the center banner, Eddie Erautt pitches the ball.
On the colorful center banner, Eddie Erautt winds up to pitch the ball.
The wind adds life to a wonderful baseball memory. Ted Williams is taking his classic swing.
The wind plays with a baseball memory. Ted Williams seems to come alive as he takes his classic swing.
Action photo of Ted Williams used by Lisa Schirmer in one windglyph. Photographer: Heber Epperson. Courtesy of Autumn Durst Keltner.
Action photo of Ted Williams used by Lisa Schirmer in one windglyph. Photographer: Heber Epperson. Courtesy of Autumn Durst Keltner.
Baseball memories take flight in the San Diego sky at Lane Field Park!
Baseball memories take flight in the San Diego sky at Lane Field Park!

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!