Young champions fight childhood cancer!

A huge crowd of families and young heroes converged on Embarcadero Marina Park North for the 2017 Celebration of Champions!
Families, generous supporters, and many young heroes converged on Embarcadero Marina Park North this morning for the 2017 Celebration of Champions!

During my walk along the Embarcadero this morning, I encountered a legion of amazing young heroes! Courageous children who are fighting cancer–and those who have defeated cancer–were gathering with their families for the 2017 Celebration of Champions!

I learned the emotionally moving event is in its 22nd year.  It features young cancer battlers passing a simulated torch, from one hand to the next, as participants run a very short distance. Money raised supports Rady Children’s Hospital’s social, psychological and emotional support programs.

Parents of brave children who lost their battle with cancer also attend the event, in a tribute to loved ones whose smiles and hopeful hearts were in this world too briefly.

Please visit the Celebration of Champions website to learn more–and perhaps provide helping a hand.

Heading to the annual event, which honors young people who fight and have fought childhood cancer.
Folks head to the annual Celebration of Champions event, which honors young people who are fighting and have fought childhood cancer.
A youthful honor guard arrives before the ceremonies begin.
A youthful honor guard arrives before the ceremonies begin.
Later in the day, many young cancer-fighting champions will carry a simulated torch around the grassy park at the edge of beautiful San Diego Bay.
I learned that later in the day, many young cancer-fighting champions would carry a simulated torch around the grassy park at the edge of beautiful San Diego Bay.
Some very young children were excited to be greeted by princesses!
Some very young children were excited to be greeted by princesses!
Young champions would hand off a torch as they completed running a small length of the park's looping walkway.
Young champions would hand off a simulated torch once they finished running a short length of the park’s looping walkway.
Go Champions!
Go Champions!

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An educational visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center!

Bat ray rises against glass of an outdoor tank at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.
Bat ray rises against glass of an outdoor tank at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.

Before my hike through Sweetwater Marsh, I enjoyed a visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center, which is located inside the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Exhibits inside the center and clusters of wildlife tanks and enclosures outside allow visitors to see and learn about the animals that make this refuge their home. The place is just right for families, with kid-size educational displays, short, easy paths, and even some picnic tables. If I were a young kid, having a birthday party here would be really cool!

After checking out the exhibits at the Living Coast Discovery Center, I ventured over to an adjacent building that is the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters. Some great displays outside provide more information about the unique and beautiful wetland that stretches in all directions. Not far from this building, one can easily find a hiking trail that leads across the marsh to San Diego Bay.

The Living Coast Discovery Center, located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, is where to get Back to Nature.
The Living Coast Discovery Center, located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, is where to get Back to Nature.
A short bus ride takes one from the parking lot near Interstate 5 through the protected Sweetwater Marsh to the kid-friendly education center.
A short bus ride takes one from the parking lot near Interstate 5 through the protected Sweetwater Marsh to the kid-friendly education center.
People near the green sea turtle exhibit at the front of the Living Coast Discovery Center.
People near the green sea turtle exhibit at the front of the Living Coast Discovery Center.
Many species of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish are on display inside the small center. There's even a mouse house popular with kids.
Many species of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish are on display inside the small center. There’s even a mouse house popular with kids.
Outside, visitors can explore exhibits featuring sharks, rays, birds and tortoises. One can also look across the surrounding Sweetwater Marsh.
Outside, visitors can explore exhibits featuring sharks, rays, birds and tortoises. One can also look across the surrounding Sweetwater Marsh.
Actions on land affect San Diego Bay. Pollution runoff flows via creeks, rivers and storm drains into the marsh then out to the ocean.
Actions on land affect San Diego Bay. Pollution runoff flows via creeks, rivers and storm drains into the marsh then out to the ocean.
A leopard shark. They are plentiful in the waters off San Diego.
A leopard shark. They are plentiful in the waters off San Diego.
This 3-million-year-old fossilized tusked walrus skull was found in the area. 470 different species have been found as fossils here, including sperm whales and now extinct flightless auk!
This 3-million-year-old fossilized tusked walrus skull was found in the area. 470 different species have been found as fossils here, including sperm whales and now extinct flightless auks!
Enclosures in the aviary area contain clapper rails, shorebirds and ducks.
Enclosures in the aviary area contain clapper rails, shorebirds and ducks.
A blue-billed ruddy duck swims in a pool of water at the Living Coast Discovery Center.
A blue-billed ruddy duck swims in a pool of water at the Living Coast Discovery Center.
In other parts of the aviary area one can see vultures, hawks, eagles and owls.
In other parts of the aviary area one can see vultures, hawks, eagles and owls.
A red-tailed hawk.
A red-tailed hawk.
Beautiful artwork on one building's side shows a beach and birds in flight. Swallows have built nests above it near the roof.
Beautiful artwork on one building’s side shows a beach and birds in flight. Swallows have built nests above it near the roof.
Bronze sculpture of a coyote. Many other works of wildlife art can be viewed around the center.
Bronze sculpture of a coyote. Many other works of wildlife art can be viewed around the center.
Sign near an enclosure describes the Sonoran desert tortoise.
Sign near an enclosure describes the Sonoran desert tortoise.
A tortoise take a slow stroll outside the Living Coast Discovery Center.
A tortoise take a slow stroll outside the Living Coast Discovery Center.
This amazing art showing marshland birds is just outside the entrance to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters.
This amazing art depicting marshland birds is just outside the entrance to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters.
Large signs explain the role of a wildlife refuge.
Large signs explain the role of a wildlife refuge.
National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for species. The first one, at Pelican Island in Florida, was created in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt.
National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for species. The first one, at Pelican Island in Florida, was created in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt.
Map of the extensive San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Map of the extensive San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The wildlife refuge contains great biodiversity. The animals and plants are all parts of a complex and sensitive ecosystem.
The wildlife refuge contains great biodiversity. The animals and plants are all parts of a complex and sensitive ecosystem.
Different forms of life can be found in subtidal channels, mudflats, the low march and high marsh. The changing tide allows birds to feed and varied species to thrive.
Different forms of life can be found in subtidal channels, mudflats, the low marsh and high marsh. The changing tide allows birds to feed and variously adapted species to thrive.
Wildlife can find it hard to thrive in urban areas. The conserved habitat of this refuge is a critical safe harbor for many native species.
Wildlife can find it hard to thrive in urban areas. The conserved habitat of this refuge is a critical safe harbor for many native species.
This place is special. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to protect its wild residents.
This place is special. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to protect its wild residents.
A green sea turtle, one of those residents of San Diego Bay!
A green sea turtle, one of those residents of San Diego Bay!

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!

Cool LEGO creations displayed in Balboa Park!

Fun LEGO creations on display during the House of Denmark lawn program in Balboa Park.
Fun LEGO creations on display during the House of Denmark lawn program in Balboa Park.

Wow! Check these out! Here are some super cool LEGO creations that I saw today in Balboa Park!

I was walking among the International Cottages when I spied tables with all sorts of fun and amazing stuff made of LEGO bricks. The builders were more than happy to show off their creations!

When I was told the House of Denmark was having their lawn program today, it all made sense. The LEGO company is based in Denmark, of course.

I also enjoyed looking at some cool Viking weapons and crafts displayed on the lawn nearby. If you want to check that out, visit my Beautiful Balboa Park blog by clicking here!

This tent was a magnet for the young and young-at-heart. Talented LEGO builders were showing off some cool creations!
This tent was a magnet for the young and young-at-heart. Talented LEGO builders were showing off some amazing creations!
I learned this castle was built from a kit. Everything else on display, however, was an original creation.
I learned this castle was built from a kit. Everything else on display, however, was an original creation.
Here we go! I see a fun train, a Viking ship and what looks like cars from an amusement park ride.
Here we go! I see a fun train, a Viking ship and what looks like cars from an amusement park ride.
Look at all the LEGO characters! I see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel comic book characters and many others!
Look at all the LEGO characters! I see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel comic book superheroes and supervillains and many others!
This first batch of LEGO creations was put together by Matt Armstrong, who runs MonsterBrick Creations!
This first batch of LEGO creations was put together by Matt Armstrong, who runs MonsterBrick Creations!
Now let's check out some cool Star Wars characters made of LEGO bricks. These were created by Miro Dudas of Humble Bricks.
Now let’s check out some cool Star Wars characters made of LEGO bricks. These were created by Miro Dudas of Humble Bricks.
His detailed Viking ship was awesome!
His detailed Viking ship was awesome!
An up-close look at the LEGO ship and its Viking warriors!
An up-close look at the LEGO ship and its Viking warriors!
This American flag created by another skilled builder was inspired by the Carlsbad Flower Fields! It took a long time and much patience to assemble!
This American flag created by another skilled LEGO builder was inspired by the Carlsbad Flower Fields! It took a long time and much patience to assemble!
There are three levels of colored flowers. The first level had to be installed first, then the second, then the third. The end result is amazing.
There are three levels of colored flowers. The first level had to be installed first, then the second, then the third. The end result is amazing.
OMG! One of my favorite movie scenes! It's a LEGO version of the Chocolate Room from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!
OMG! One of my favorite movie scenes! It’s a LEGO version of the Chocolate Room from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!
Pure imagination! A meadow full of candy made of LEGO bricks! I think Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, would have been delighted by this.
Pure imagination! A meadow full of candy made of LEGO bricks! I think Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, would have been delighted by this.
I was told that's Augustus Gloop near the bottom reaching for a chocolate flower. Don't fall into the river! Watch out for the pipes!
I was told that is Augustus Gloop near the bottom reaching for a chocolate flower. Don’t fall into the river! Watch out for the pipes!
Here comes an Oompa Loompa sailing down the chocolate river! The Chocolate Room was built by LEGO master John Cooper!
Here comes an Oompa Loompa sailing down the chocolate river! The Chocolate Room was built by LEGO master John Cooper!
A young man had made a number of super cool LEGO characters using his imagination.
A young man had made a number of super cool LEGO characters using his imagination.
Awesome!
Awesome!
The young man demonstrates how to make an adjustment to one LEGO creation.
The young man demonstrates how to make an adjustment to one LEGO creation.
This table on the International Cottages lawn contained all sorts of creations made by visitors to the House of Denmark event.
This table on the International Cottages lawn contained all sorts of unique LEGO creations made by visitors to the House of Denmark event.
I'm not sure what these guys are making. It could be literally anything!
I’m not sure what these guys are making. It could be literally anything!

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!

Student posters celebrate United States Constitution.

A young student's very creative poster demonstrates the principal of equal rights for all citizens in the United States Constitution. Equality for all. We the people.
A young student’s colorful poster celebrates equal rights and protections. These are established by the United States Constitution. Equality for all. We the people.

Please enjoy a few photos that I took yesterday as I walked down Broadway past the Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse. My eye was attracted by happy, colorful artwork created by children on display in some windows.

These posters were designed by young students last year for 2016 Law Week. They celebrate principles that are enshrined in the United States Constitution.

(I have many blog posts coming up pertaining to this weekend’s San Diego Architectural Foundation OPEN HOUSE 2017 event. A couple of the locations will probably be featured on my Beautiful Balboa Park blog. And it might take me some time to prepare everything. Stay tuned!)

2016 Law Week Poster Contest winners in window of San Diego's downtown Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse. Students from a variety of local schools participated.
2016 Law Week Poster Contest winners in a window of San Diego’s downtown Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse. Students from a variety of local schools participated.
...insure domestic Tranquility... We get along with each other.
…insure domestic Tranquility… We get along with each other.
...in Order to form a more perfect Union... Make things better for all who live here.
…in Order to form a more perfect Union… Make things better for all who live here.
...Secure the Blessings of Liberty... We have freedom.
…Secure the Blessings of Liberty… We have freedom.
We the People of the United States...
We the People of the United States…

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!

Two ways to help vulnerable children worldwide.

Smile Train is a charity that helps local doctors perform cleft surgery for children around the world.
Smile Train is a charity that helps local doctors perform cleft surgery for children around the world.  Each operation transforms a life.

This week, as I walked to and from work, I noticed posters that promote two different charities. Both organizations help vulnerable children around the world.

I figured I’d blog the photos and help out just a teeny tiny bit. If you’d like to read the posters and learn more, and perhaps become involved or provide a donation, click the images and they will enlarge.

Child Fund International helps deprived and vulnerable children worldwide to be healthy and receive an education.
Child Fund International fights poverty.  They help deprived and vulnerable children worldwide to be healthy and receive an education.

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Happy environmental art in a city park!

Lots of colorful tile art with happy environmental themes decorates this trash can in downtown San Diego's Pantoja Park.
Lots of tiles painted with happy environmental themes.  Together they form a mosaic that decorates this trash can in downtown San Diego’s Pantoja Park.

I love mosaics that are composed of ceramic tiles painted by ordinary people–young people in particular. It’s like a patchwork of inner visions, expressed from many hearts.

The Envirocan in downtown San Diego’s Pantoja Park is a special trashcan that is decorated with tiles that were hand-painted by young artists. Most of the colorful images express environmental themes. Clean air, clean water . . . plus lots of smiles. Smiles are good for the environment, right? Of course they are.

ESI Art Corps San Diego. Envirocan, donated by Dick Butler. "One Who Cares"
ESI Art Corps San Diego. Envirocan – Donated by Dick Butler. “One Who Cares”
One side of the Envirocan features a female face. Perhaps it is Mother Earth.
One side of the Envirocan features a female face. Perhaps it is Mother Earth.
Colorful tiles painted by many creative hands form a mosaic on the Envirocan's other three sides. Here's the face of a happy critter in a tree, and some flowers.
Colorful tiles painted by many creative hands form a mosaic on the Envirocan’s other three sides. Here’s a happy face in a tree, and some flowers.
Keep our Earth clean!
Keep our Earth clean!
A house in a beautiful pristine landscape.
A house in a beautiful pristine landscape.
Flower Power
Flower Power
A human eye. A smudge of dirt looks like a tear.
A human eye. A smudge of something looks like a tear.
Fish enjoy a clean blue ocean.
Fish enjoy a clean blue ocean.
I'm not sure what this is, but it looks pretty cool!
I’m not sure what this is, but it looks pretty cool!
Someone is poking their nose over a fence.
Someone is poking their nose over a fence.
One tile on the Envirocan features the Enviro-can!
One tile on the Envirocan features the Enviro-can!
A happy face of many colors.
A happy face of many colors.
Another lively underwater scene.
Another lively underwater scene.
And another face!
And another beautiful face!
A clean river flows down from green hills between trees.
A clean river flows down from green hills between trees.
Wisdom is often found in a balance. Yin and yang. All things are connected.
Wisdom is often found in a balance. Yin and yang. All things are connected.
Looks like a weird underwater image. Not sure about the cube with tentacles.
Looks like a weird underwater scene. Not sure about the cube with tentacles.
Birds in a clear blue sky under a golden sun.
Birds in a clear blue sky under a golden sun.
Lots more smiley faces! They almost look like leaves to me.
Lots more smiley faces! They almost look like leaves to me.
A red heart on patchwork colors. Love.
A red heart on patchwork colors. Love.

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 amazing model train layout in Old Town!

A jaw-dropping night scene in a huge model train layout in Old Town San Diego!
The jaw-dropping night scene of a gigantic model train layout in Old Town San Diego!

During my walk through Old Town San Diego today, I stepped through an ordinary door into a fantastic dream! Before me stretched a positively enormous model train layout!

The Old Town Model Railroad Depot is a truly amazing attraction that anyone would enjoy seeing. The gigantic layout features O-Scale model trains, and as you can see in these photos, just lots of fun buildings, landscapes, moving figures and special effects.

I must say, in my opinion this layout even beats the two awesome O-Scale layouts at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park. Now that really took some doing!

And the two guys I spoke to at the Old Town Model Railroad Depot were really friendly! Next time I walk past, you can be sure I’ll venture inside again!

The Old Town Model Railroad Depot is a cool attraction featuring a gigantic 2500 square feet layout for O-Scale model trains!
The Old Town Model Railroad Depot is a cool attraction featuring a gigantic room full of working model trains!  It’s one of the largest O-Scale layouts in the country!
Fun gifts, artwork and items for model train hobbyists can also be purchased at San Diego's unique Old Town Model Railroad Depot.
Fun gifts, artwork and items for model train hobbyists can also be purchased at San Diego’s unique Old Town Model Railroad Depot.
A locomotive for sale among other fascinating stuff.
A locomotive for sale among other unique and fascinating stuff.
Lots of nostalgic railway artwork decorates the walls.
Lots of nostalgic historical railway posters decorate one wall.
The huge train layout has two halves--one represents daytime, the other night. Kids can stand on platforms to see--and hear--all the action.
The huge train layout has two halves–one represents daytime, the other night. Kids can stand on platforms to see–and hear–all of the exciting action.
Many model buildings populate the O-Scale train layout. It's the same scale used by classic Lionel Trains.
Many model buildings populate the O-Scale train layout. It’s the same scale used by classic Lionel Trains.
Tiny human figures and vehicles can be spotted everywhere one looks on the realistic layout.
Tiny human figures and vehicles can be spotted everywhere one looks on the realistic layout.
I really enjoyed the night side of the layout. It seemed even more realistic and dynamic. Special lighting effects include fireworks bursting over a stadium and lightning stabbing down from clouds!
I really enjoyed the night side of the layout. It seemed even more realistic and dynamic. Special lighting effects include fireworks bursting over a stadium and lightning stabbing down from clouds!
A tiny mechanic works in a tiny garage on a tiny truck.
A tiny mechanic works in a tiny garage at night on a tiny truck.
A detailed scene recreates firemen fighting a fire at night.
A detailed scene recreates firemen fighting a fire at night. I see miniature police, an ambulance, reporters and a small crowd of evacuated people!
Your kids will go crazy. You have to see it to believe it. And it's free! But leave a donation!
Your kids will go crazy. You have to see it to believe it. And it’s free! But leave a donation!

UPDATE!

I stepped into the Old Town Model Railroad Depot a second time! And I loved it even more than my first visit!

I met Gary Hickok, the creator of this stupendous layout, and learned he has been collecting the various pieces you see for 15 years. There are hundreds of tiny unique human figures, and they all seem to tell a story. Their unique poses are all part of a huge, bustling scene. The stories are often humorous!

Here are some more random photos that came out okay. These were all taken on the “day side” of the O-Scale model train layout. I hope you enjoy them!

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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!