A travelling poet and a bagpiper in Balboa Park.

Today I met two cool people during my walk around Balboa Park. One is a travelling poet, the other a Scottish bagpiper.

The poet’s name is DJ Leary. You can find him online @wordsbydj.

Danny was perched in front of an old manual typewriter by the entrance to the Casa Del Prado Theater. Inspired words were pouring (pounding?) out from his fingertips for curious passersby. I peered over his shoulder at sudden lines of truth. We talked just a little. We shared some experiences. I could tell in an instant that Danny loves writing and life’s endless mystery.

I urge you to go here and read some of his poems.

The bagpiper is Frank Hunter. He’s a member of the House of Scotland Pipe Band. I met him while I was walking across the grass at the International Cottages.

Frank kindly introduced me to the bagpipes: their ancient origin, evolution and important role in history. He brought out his instrument, assembled it, tuned it, and performed. He told me about his own heritage and how the Highland Light Infantry is his family regiment. He had much to say, and all of it was immensely fascinating.

I’ve heard Frank playing bagpipes around Balboa Park before, and I urge visitors to the park to listen for their unmistakable voice. You will not be disappointed.

Balboa Park is full of amazing people.

Simply smile and say hello.

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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!

Folk dance and smiles at House of Ukraine!

Balboa Park’s House of Ukraine had their lawn program today at the International Cottages.

I don’t know a whole lot about the culture and history of Ukraine, but I could see one thing very clearly. The Ukrainian love for food, uplifting song, bright colorful costumes and folk dance shows an enduring, passionate love of life.

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A place like heaven, and full of surprises.

Balboa Park to me is a place like heaven. A place overflowing with joy and sunshine and smiles and wonder. A carefree place that is full of surprises.

Today I enjoyed a few delightful surprises during my walk–as you’ll see.

The House of Peru hosted a lawn program today at Balboa Park's International Cottages.
A huge crowd had gathered at the International Cottages. The House of Peru hosted a colorful lawn program today.

Peruvian born Mario Torero, internationally famous muralist and activist, greets the audience before receiving an honor.
Peruvian born Mario Torero, internationally famous muralist and activist, greets the audience before receiving an honor.
The brass ring might appear any moment.
The brass ring might appear at any moment.

Balboa Park is one of the most wonderful places on Earth.

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!

House of USA celebrates in Balboa Park!

During my walk through Balboa Park this afternoon, I observed members of the House of USA setting up for their lawn program at the International Cottages. And suddenly I remembered Independence Day is coming up on Thursday!

After walking a little more about the park, I returned to the International Cottages right at two o’clock, just in time for the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The crowd wasn’t very large, but everyone was enjoying a fine occasion. The House of USA was serving up hot dogs, and people were stepping inside their cottage to see all sorts of cultural and historical displays. Outside on the stage, Navy Band Southwest’s outstanding Prevailing Winds Ensemble was playing a mixture of classic and popular tunes. I really enjoyed their great rendition of music from The Incredibles!

I checked out a couple of booths on the lawn. The House of USA princess posed for a cool photo. I met a gentlemen promoting the Civil Air Patrol.

Over the years, Civil Air Patrol volunteers have saved thousands of lives. They’re the ones who often transport emergency supplies after a disaster, spot people trapped on rooftops during catastrophic floods, and locate hikers lost in the mountains. I learned they have a cadet program for youth interesting in aviation, personal growth and community service.

The Civil Air Patrol always needs volunteers! Click here to learn more!

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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Swords of Chivalry knights battle in Balboa Park!

In my opinion, the most exciting part of the House of England’s lawn program in Balboa Park yesterday was the historical sword fighting. A local group called Swords of Chivalry provided a fine demonstration of realistic combat between armored knights during the Middle Ages.

According to their website, the Swords of Chivalry Program is one of only 16 schools in the world that have been selected to the Chivalric Fighting Arts Association. The program is led by “San Diego’s own Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) expert and medieval history guru, Scott Farrell.”

As knights and their squires performed heroic feats upon the green grass of the International Cottages, I and everyone watching were drawn back in time to the fantastic Age of Chivalry.

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English knights, cute Corgis, Harry Potter and more!

Knights in shining armor mock battle in Balboa Park during the House of England lawn program!
Knights in armor engage in mock battle during the House of England’s lawn program.

The House of England in Balboa Park hosted a really great lawn program today!

As I lingered on the grass at the center of the International Cottages, I saw historical costumes, several mock knight battles, a Beatles tribute band, and even a parade of Welsh Corgis! I also stepped into the House of England’s cottage to check out a bunch of cultural displays!

These photos show what I experienced…

The wonderful House of England lawn program drew a good crowd to the International Cottages in Balboa Park.
The annual House of England lawn program drew a good crowd to the International Cottages in Balboa Park.
A member of the group Swords of Chivalry removes her steel helmet after some mock medieval combat.
A member of the group Swords of Chivalry removes her steel helmet after some mock medieval combat.
Other members of Swords of Chivalry have donned historical armor during the lawn program.
Other members of Swords of Chivalry have donned historical armor during the House of England’s lawn program.
Kids had fun learning about the Age of Chivalry, a time long ago that seems like pure fantasy in our modern age.
Kids had fun learning about the Age of Chivalry, a time long ago that now seems like pure fantasy.
Ron, Hermione and Harry welcome visitors to the House of England's cottage. Join us for a cup of tea.
Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter welcome visitors to the House of England’s cottage. Join us for a cup of tea.
The House of England's cottage is jam packed with all sorts of interesting photos, artwork and cultural displays.
The House of England’s small cottage is full of interesting photos, artwork and cultural displays.
One wall features the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. A nearby poster traces The Royal Lineage.
One wall features the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. A nearby poster traces The Royal Lineage.
A Briton's Creed, Big Ben,Winston Churchill and more!
A Briton’s Creed, Big Ben,Winston Churchill and more!
I soon spotted a bunch of Harry Potter stuff. It's the Sorting Hat from Hogwarts!
I soon spotted a bunch of Harry Potter stuff. It’s the Sorting Hat from Hogwarts!
One chart shows how the name Luna has become increasingly popular due to the Harry Potter books and films.
One chart shows how the name Luna has become increasingly popular due to the Harry Potter books and films.
It's all of the Doctors from the Doctor Who series!
It’s all of the Doctors from the popular Doctor Who series!
A large display in the cottage is devoted to the British royal family, and Princess Diana in particular.
A large display in the cottage is devoted to the British royal family, and Princess Diana in particular.
An article about keeping Diana's legacy alive by eliminating landmines around the world.
An article about striving to keep Diana’s legacy alive by eliminating landmines around the world. (Click image to enlarge for easy reading.)
Look at all the fun, unique teapots!
Look at all the fun, unique teapots!
Back outside, the House of England had a food tent up. Delectable treats for sale included Hagrid's Dragon Eggs!
Back outside, the House of England had a food tent up. Delectable treats for sale included Hagrid’s Dragon Eggs!
All sorts of tents on the lawn. Many contained displays concerning English culture and history.
All sorts of tents along the grass. Many contained information about English culture and history.
Some attending the cool event wore historical costumes.
Some attending the cool event wore historical costumes.
A parade featuring dozens of cute Corgis caught everyone's attention.
A parade featuring dozens of cute Corgis caught everyone’s attention.
Some guys rode penny-farthings to Balboa Park's fun House of England lawn program.
Some guys rode penny-farthings to Balboa Park’s wonderful House of England event.
Four gentlemen and their high wheels.
Four gentlemen and their high wheels.
This elegant lady had a table that concerned the show Victoria on PBS.
This elegant lady had a table that concerned the show Victoria on PBS.
Images from 19th century England.
Images from 19th century England.
Claudia Previn Stasny, daughter of André Previn, sings The Star Spangled Banner and God Save the Queen to begin the main program of entertainment.
Claudia Previn Stasny, daughter of André Previn, sang The Star Spangled Banner and God Save the Queen to begin the program of afternoon entertainment.
A happy group of Welsh Corgis hangs out by the stage.
A happy group of Welsh Corgis hangs out by the stage.
The Baja Bugs, a great Beatles tribute band, rocks the House of England's lawn program.
The Baja Bugs, a great Beatles tribute band, rocks the House of England’s lawn program.
I think I see Ringo at the drums!
I think I see Ringo at the drums!
Knights entertain an outdoor audience at the House of England's lawn program in Balboa Park.
Battling knights entertain an outdoor audience at the House of England’s lawn program in Balboa 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!

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Mayflower descendants gather in Balboa Park!

I'm welcomed to Plimoth Plantation West in Balboa Park by two descendants of Mayflower Pilgrims!
I’m welcomed to Plimoth Plantation West in Balboa Park by two descendants of Mayflower Pilgrims!

Yesterday I swung by the International Cottages in Balboa Park to check out an absolutely unique event!

The Mayflower Society’s San Diego Colony had created Plimoth Plantation West, a representation of Pilgrim history and life, focusing on the arrival of the Pilgrims in the New World and their establishment of Plymouth Colony. The colorful event was organized in anticipation of an important day that will arrive in two years: the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower Landing in 1620.

I’m no expert when it comes to the history of the Pilgrims, so I was fascinated by many of the displays.

I learned about the Pilgrims’ various reasons for departing England, their journey across the Atlantic, the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the eventual anchoring off Cape Cod, the extreme hardships and many deaths during that first harsh winter, their friendly and not-so-friendly relations with several Native American tribes who lived in the region . . . even the sorts of games Pilgrim children enjoyed playing.

Many members of the Society of Mayflower Descendants were at the event in period costume, celebrating their ancestors and an important chapter in America’s early history. One gentleman I spoke to had descended directly from William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony!

Here are a few photos of Plimoth Plantation West!

If you are one of the 31 million possible Mayflower descendants worldwide, you can join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants!
If you are one of the 31 million possible Mayflower descendants worldwide, you can join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants!
Someone points to a chart showing the original Mayflower passengers. Less than half survived and made it to the first Thanksgiving in 1621.
Someone points to a chart showing the original Mayflower passengers. Less than half survived and made it to the first Thanksgiving in 1621.
The Mayflower Compact, signed aboard ship, was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It specified basic laws and social rules for the new colony.
The Mayflower Compact, signed aboard ship, was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It specified basic laws and social rules for the new colony.
This friendly gent was dressed like William Brewster, a respected elder and leader of Plymouth Colony.
This friendly gent was dressed like religious separatist William Brewster, a respected elder and leader of Plymouth Colony.
A timeline of Pilgrim history begins with the formation of the Church of England. Puritans sought to eliminate retained Catholic practices. Separatists created secret congregations.
A timeline of Pilgrim history begins with the formation of the Church of England. Puritans sought to eliminate retained Catholic practices. Separatists created secret congregations.
One gentleman was demonstrating the use of a quill and inkwell. I learned ink was often made from berry juices, and turkey and goose feathers were primarily used for quills.
One gentleman was demonstrating the use of a quill and inkwell. I learned ink was often made from berry juices, and turkey and goose feathers were primarily used for quills.
Educational tools used by the Pilgrims included a Child's Hornbook, a form of children's primer containing the letters of the alphabet.
Educational tools used by the Pilgrims included a Child’s Hornbook, a form of children’s primer containing the letters of the alphabet.
Pilgrim children enjoyed very simple toys and games, and small crudely made dolls.
Pilgrim children enjoyed simple games and toys, like spinning tops, and small crudely made dolls.
The descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims gather for a special event in San Diego's Balboa Park!
The descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims gather for a special event in San Diego’s always lively Balboa 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!