Friday food trucks and fun in Balboa Park!

People stroll down El Prado, checking out a variety of gourmet food trucks on a late Friday afternoon.
People stroll down El Prado, checking out a huge variety of gourmet food trucks on a late Friday afternoon.

If you haven’t been to Food Truck Friday in Balboa Park, you’re missing out!

Not only is there all sorts of yummy food, but there is grass to picnic on and live music and juggling and hula hoops and checkers and crafts for the kids and colorful flowers and splashing fountains and amazing architecture and smiles and . . . I could go on and on! And the museums are open late, too!

Balboa Park’s special magic adds spice to an already tasty meal!

Balboa Park Food Truck Friday promises yummy eats and fun through September in the Plaza de Panama.
Balboa Park’s Food Truck Friday promises yummy eats and fun through September in the Plaza de Panama and along the length of El Prado.
Feasting on the grass in sunny Balboa Park. Food Truck Fridays is the place to be for a fun and festive dinner.
Feasting on the grass in sunny Balboa Park. Food Truck Fridays is the place to be for a festive family-friendly dinner.
Kenny Shelton the friendly juggler was getting warmed up. He and other entertainers can be found throughout the park.
Kenny Shelton the awesome juggler was getting warmed up. He and other entertainers can be found throughout the park.
A beautiful photo of the Plaza de Panama, its fountain, flowers, and the House of Hospitality during Food Truck Friday.
A beautiful photo of the Plaza de Panama, its fountain, flowers, and the sunlit House of Hospitality during Food Truck Friday.
If you live in San Diego, this giant checkerboard and these hula hoops are waiting for you!
If you live in San Diego, this giant checkerboard and these hula hoops are waiting for you!
Musicians were playing under the Balboa Park Conservancy canopy near the Plaza de Panama fountain.
Musicians were playing under the Balboa Park Conservancy canopy near the Plaza de Panama fountain.
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum had a table in the plaza where kids could paint pictures of trains!
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum had a table in the plaza where young kids could apply dots of paint to fun trains!
And nearby, Spanish Village Art Center had their own fun table where kids could be creative!
And nearby, Spanish Village Art Center had their own cool table where kids could be creative!
I spotted a Puppet Shows sign traveling through the plaza. So naturally I had to investigate...
I spotted a Puppet Shows sign traveling through the plaza. So naturally I had to investigate…
The Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre in Balboa Park is now presenting The Little Mermaid! A pelican puppet says hello and invites you all to the show!
The Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre in Balboa Park is now presenting The Little Mermaid! A pelican puppet says hello and invites you all to the show!
A truly Happy Friday in San Diego's always amazing Balboa Park.
A truly Happy Friday in San Diego’s always amazing 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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Cartoon Network character balloons take flight!

A whole flock of Cartoon Network characters take to the sky! Fun balloons fly over the fountain at Children's Park during 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!
A whole flock of Cartoon Network characters take to the sky! Fun balloons fly over the fountain at Children’s Park during 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!

Fourteen of seventeen Cartoon Network character balloons have been inflated so far for 2017 Comic-Con. You can see them soaring above the fountain at Children’s Park on MLK Promenade! I learned this morning two more balloons will be added tomorrow, and one final balloon on Friday!

Do you recognize some of these characters? If you do, feel free to leave a comment!

This helpful sign appeared on Thursday!

The Cartoon Network balloon characters include: K.O., Ice Bear, Four Arms, Richard, Robin, Darwin, Buttercup, Cannonbolt, Panda, Steven Universe, Beast Boy, Gumball, Raven, Omnitrix, Grizz, and Steven's Shirt!
The Cartoon Network balloon characters include: K.O., Ice Bear, Four Arms, Richard, Robin, Darwin, Buttercup, Cannonbolt, Panda, Steven Universe, Beast Boy, Gumball, Raven, Omnitrix, Grizz, and Steven’s Shirt!

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!

Team of Santas urges kids to eat healthy food!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

People playing Over The Line on Fiesta Island today had to be blinking their eyes. They didn’t just see Santa Claus striding across the sand–they saw a whole team of jolly Santas!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity is competing this year in the OMBAC World Championship Over The Line Tournament in San Diego! And they’re spreading the important message that kids should eat healthy, nutritious food!

The unique team of Santas is organized by “Sustainable Santa” Richard Eckfield, and its members were observed this morning parading around the island handing out carrots and talking about the dangers of processed, sugary junk food and the rise of childhood obesity. Supported by several sponsors and the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, their mission is simply to promote healthy eating habits for children. “Healthy, Happy and Fit for Life!”

Members of Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity can also be seen from time to time at farmers markets across San Diego County. They encourage children to eat real, honest-to-goodness wholesome food.

Will they win the OTL Camummy Division this year? I don’t know. I do know these Santas have a winning message!

You might like to follow the Santa & Mrs Claus for Healthy Children Facebook page!

Unlike most presents unwrapped at Christmas, good health is a gift that will last a long, merry, magical lifetime!

Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy Bill Swank.
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Image courtesy Bill Swank.)
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

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Fill a red shoe online for Ronald McDonald House!

Your online gift to Ronald McDonald House will sponsor a meal, buy supplies for a student, support a night's stay for a family with a hospitalized child.
Your online gift to Ronald McDonald House will sponsor a meal, buy supplies for a student, or support a night’s stay for a family with a hospitalized child.

Today was Red Shoe Day. If you drove about San Diego, you might have seen smiling, unselfish people holding up big Ronald McDonald shoes at major intersections. Perhaps you were in traffic and didn’t have a chance to make a charitable donation.

Well, here’s your opportunity. Make your donation online (or learn about Ronald McDonald House) by clicking here!

Help support Ronald McDonald House. Fill the red shoe with an online donation!
Help support Ronald McDonald House. Fill the red shoe with an online donation!

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Photos of Family Day at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.

Someone walks toward the Nature Center on Tecolote Family Day.
Someone walks toward the Nature Center on Tecolote Family Day.

Today I headed over to Tecolote Canyon Natural Park. While I frequently drive around this narrow San Diego city park, which serves as a nature preserve inside Tecolote Canyon east of Mission Bay, I’ve never taken a single step inside. When I saw that an event called Family Day would be happening today, I decided to pay a visit!

What did I discover? Read the photo captions to find out!

Sign near entrance of the Nature Center provides info about Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.
A sign near entrance to the Nature Center provides information about Tecolote Canyon Natural Park.
A narrow strip of natural habitat preserved in San Diego. Tecolote Canyon features hiking trails and a refuge for wildlife.
A narrow strip of natural habitat preserved in San Diego. Tecolote Canyon features hiking trails and a refuge for wildlife.
Sign inside the Tecolote Nature Center. The park was originally dedicated in 1977. Houses, yards and streets surround this area where the native environment still survives.
Sign inside the Tecolote Nature Center. The park was originally dedicated in 1977. Houses, yards and streets surround this area where the native environment still survives.
Many interpretive displays can be found in the Nature Center. The coyote is Tecolote Canyon's largest predator.
Many interpretive displays can be found in the Nature Center. The coyote is Tecolote Canyon’s largest predator.
One sign describes San Diego's Coastal Sage Scrub habitat, which is found in a small part of the world, along the coast of Southern California into Mexico.
One sign describes San Diego’s Coastal Sage Scrub habitat, which is found in a small part of the world, along the coast of Southern California into Mexico.
The Brown Towhee is one of many birds one might spot in the canyon.
The Brown Towhee is one of many birds one might spot in the canyon.
Along Tecolote Creek lies the Riparian Woodland habitat. Water attracts animals from the dry hills, and native trees like willows, cottonwoods and sycamores grow on the creek's banks.
Along Tecolote Creek lies the Riparian Woodland habitat. Water attracts animals from the dry hills, and native trees like willows, cottonwoods and sycamores grow near the creek’s banks.
One of the displays shows Lemonadeberry (a common chaparral shrub in San Diego), Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry, and a California Thrasher.
One of the displays shows Lemonadeberry (a common chaparral shrub in San Diego), Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry, and a California Thrasher.
A topographical representation of Tecolote Canyon, which you can see directly below Mission Bay. Up is west, right is north.
A topographical representation of curving Tecolote Canyon, which you can see directly below Mission Bay. Up is west, right is north.
Many of the plants and animals now in Tecolote Canyon are the same as those here 200 years ago. Golden eagles and mountain lions, however, have vanished because this natural space is limited in size.
Many of the plants and animals now in Tecolote Canyon are the same as those here 200 years ago. Golden eagles and mountain lions, however, have vanished because this natural space is too limited in size.
Families enjoy a special day to learn about the environment. It's Tecolote Family Day! There were lots of educational displays and activities at the Nature Center.
Families enjoy a special day and learn about the canyon’s environment. It’s Tecolote Family Day! There were lots of educational displays and activities at the Nature Center.
Special events at Tecolote Family Day included a scavenger hunt for kids, art, music, dance and a silent auction.
Activities at Tecolote Family Day included a scavenger hunt for kids, art, music, dance and a silent auction.
Inside the Nature Center, one table had lots of displays concerning insects! Another one had snakes.
Inside the Nature Center, one table had lots of displays concerning insects! Another one had snakes.
At another table I was shown a coyote skull.
At another table I was shown a coyote skull.
I believe these beautiful poppy paintings were part of the silent auction.
I believe these beautiful poppy paintings were part of the silent auction.
A friendly parrot was at a booth promoting Zovargo, a local company which offers animal summer camps for kids.
A friendly parrot was at a booth promoting Zovargo, a local business that offers animal summer camps for kids.
These kids were dancing to a fun song about pollination!
These kids were dancing to a fun song about pollination!
Nearby I discovered the Tecolote Native Plant Nursery.
Nearby I discovered the Tecolote Native Plant Nursery.
Work is ongoing to take back the native habitat from invading plant species.
Work is ongoing to take back the native habitat from invading plant species.
I saw some signs about the importance of composting. It enhances soil and protects watersheds.
I saw some signs about the importance of composting. It enhances soil and protects watersheds.
Behind the Nature Center, near an amphitheater and native garden, I saw this e'waa, a simple willow branch structure built by the Native American Kumeyaay.
Behind the Nature Center, near an amphitheater and native garden, I saw this example of an e’waa, a simple willow branch structure built by the Native American Kumeyaay.
A sign depicts the Tecolote Watershed. Pollutants can flow down the creek and enter the soil, Mission Bay and eventually the Pacific Ocean.
A sign depicts the Tecolote Watershed. Pollutants can flow down the creek and enter the soil, Mission Bay and eventually the Pacific Ocean.
Several signs can be found around a small native garden. This one, Aromas of the Canyon, depicts Black Sage, White Sage and California Sagebrush.
Several signs can be found around the small native garden. This one, Aromas of the Canyon, depicts Black Sage, White Sage and California Sagebrush.
On the way to the hiking trail that leads into Tecolote Canyon, one might spot this owl!
On the way to the hiking trail that leads into Tecolote Canyon, one might spot this owl!
Hikers read the sign at the Battle Trail trailhead.
Hikers read the sign at the Battle Trail trailhead.
Welcome to the Battle Trail - Nature's haven in the city.
Welcome to the Battle Trail – Nature’s haven in the city.
I start up the easy trail. The vegetation in Tecolote Canyon is still green in late spring, after a very rainy winter.
I start up the easy trail. The vegetation in Tecolote Canyon is still green in late spring, after a very rainy winter.
This lush greenery will soon dry out in the Southern California summer and turn mostly brown.
This lush greenery will soon dry out in the Southern California summer and turn mostly brown.
I am greeted by cheerful yellow sunflowers.
I am greeted by cheerful yellow sunflowers.
I believe this house on a post is for bats. I've seen similar boxes in other open space parks around San Diego.
I believe this house on a post is for bats. I’ve seen similar boxes in other open space parks around San Diego.
A family heads into Tecolote Canyon to explore nature.
A family heads into Tecolote Canyon to explore nature.

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Amazing youth exhibition at San Diego Museum of Art!

Senna Osawa, Tamayo Watermelon, mixed media, Second Grade, Kumeyaay Elementary.
Senna Osawa, Tamayo Watermelon, mixed media, Second Grade, Kumeyaay Elementary.

Look what I discovered!

The San Diego Museum of Art has a free exhibition of art that was created by local school students. It’s called Young Art 2017: Beyond the Ordinary. You can find it in the hallway that leads from the museum’s outdoor sculpture court to the restrooms that are often used by diners at Panama 66.

Every two years, a new exhibition of Young Art is presented by the museum. All I can say is once you step through the door your jaw will drop! Dozens of outstanding, truly amazing works of art line the walls and fill a few display cases.

Inspired students from Kindergarten to Twelfth Grade, from schools throughout San Diego County, have created all sorts of fantastic still life artwork, including paintings, drawings, mixed media, photography and ceramic sculptures. Some of the students have written a sentence or two explaining their thoughts and creative process.

My quick photos of these few examples barely scratch the surface. I just chose some of the art that I personally like. Funny–perhaps my favorite piece was created by a talented young artist in Kindergarten!

If you visit Balboa Park, you must take a look!

Beyond the Ordinary. Young Art 2017. Amazing, inspired artwork in a free exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park!
Beyond the Ordinary. Young Art 2017. Amazing, inspired artwork in a free exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park!
Catherine Zhao, Message in a Bottle, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Catherine Zhao, Message in a Bottle, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
The Great Fruit Bowl, a drawing by many Christ Church Day School Second Grade student artists.
The Great Fruit Bowl, a drawing by many Christ Church Day School Second Grade student artists.
Fizzah Arshad, Tea, drawing, Ninth Grade, Otay Ranch High School.
Fizzah Arshad, Tea, drawing, Ninth Grade, Otay Ranch High School.
Arissa Diaz-Lelevier, Multi-media Still Life, mixed media, Eighth Grade, Stella Maris Academy.
Arissa Diaz-Lelevier, Multi-media Still Life, mixed media, Eighth Grade, Stella Maris Academy.
Mirabella Komniey, Pitcher, mixed media, Fifth Grade, Vista Grande Elementary.
Mirabella Komniey, Pitcher, mixed media, Fifth Grade, Vista Grande Elementary.
Emma Cecil, Enticement, painting, Twelfth Grade, Torrey Pines High School.
Emma Cecil, Enticement, painting, Twelfth Grade, Torrey Pines High School.
Camryn Melendez, Apricot Sunrise, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Camryn Melendez, Apricot Sunrise, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Eric Pak, Flora and Skull, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Eric Pak, Flora and Skull, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Karina Spinazzola, Lemons and Lilies, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Karina Spinazzola, Lemons and Lilies, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Anh Huynh, Distilled, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Anh Huynh, Distilled, painting, Twelfth Grade, Westview High School.
Caden Glazner, Time for Tea, painting, Third Grade, Del Sur Elementary.
Caden Glazner, Time for Tea, painting, Third Grade, Del Sur Elementary.
Joy Zou, Tea Time, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Joy Zou, Tea Time, drawing, Eleventh Grade, Westview High School.
Bella Anderson and Cate Hunsberger, Medieval Lunch, painting, Seventh Grade, Coronado Middle School.
Bella Anderson and Cate Hunsberger, Medieval Lunch, painting, Seventh Grade, Coronado Middle School.
Skylar Britt, O'Keeffe Flower, mixed media, Kindergarten, Kumeyaay Elementary.
Skylar Britt, O’Keeffe Flower, mixed media, Kindergarten, Kumeyaay Elementary.
Jenna Vo, Magritte Floating Still Life, mixed media, Fourth Grade, Kumeyaay Elementary.
Jenna Vo, Magritte Floating Still Life, mixed media, Fourth Grade, Kumeyaay Elementary.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

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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