Super creative piñatas fill the Mingei!

Would you like to see a jaw-dropping exhibition of super creative piñatas?

Would you like to see fantastic works of art that have been inspired by the traditional Mexican piñata?

Piñatas: The High Art of Celebration is now on display at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park!

I’ve never seen so many unique piñatas all in one place. And so many unusual ones!

In addition to more familiar traditional piñatas, visitors to the exhibition will see unusual piñata costumes, creative piñata wall art, piñatas with political messages, humorous piñatas, pop culture piñatas . . . even a life-size car piñata! (That car piñata would hold a lot of candy!)

According to the Mingei’s website, this is one of the first-ever exhibitions to spotlight piñatas as a traditional craft and vibrant contemporary art form.

I was excited to see so many unexpected creations. It never occurred to me that piñatas might be crafted as small hummingbirds or butterflies, or a bag of Cheetos, or a bottle of COVID-19 vaccine!

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I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Walking past the forgotten town of Bernardo.

Did you know there used to be a town named Bernardo in what is now San Diego’s North County?

Bernardo was a tiny town between Escondido and Rancho Bernardo, where Lake Hodges is located today.

The creation of Lake Hodges in 1918, accomplished by damming the Bernardo River (now called San Dieguito River), put a definite end to little Bernardo. But today people hiking the Mule Hill Trail can see several information signs that recall the history of the now vanished town.

If you’d like to walk down the Mule Hill Trail yourself, take Interstate 15 to Bear Valley Parkway at the south end of Escondido. The wide dirt trail can be found about a quarter mile east of the freeway, leading south. (You’ll see it right before Beethoven Drive.)

Before reaching the site of old Bernardo, this very easy trail passes Mule Hill, where a skirmish took place during the Mexican-American War. I’ll be blogging about that coming up.

Cart roads used by the Spanish and Mexicans before the appearance of Bernardo linked a number of Ranchos–San Bernardo, El Rincon, Del Diablo, Santa Maria, Santa Ysabel, Valle de San Jose and San Felipe–with the port of San Diego.

After the division of Rancho San Bernardo around 1870, a small village developed, known as the town of Bernardo. In addition to several houses, there was a store, post office, blacksmith shop, grange hall and public school. By 1887, the population in the surrounding farm area was approximately 400 people…

For a brief period, Bernardo was a stop for the stagecoaches between San Diego and Yuma.

The San Diego to Yuma Road was an overland trail in the mid-1800s. It was used by the Army of the West in 1846 and gold rush immigrants from 1848 through 1851. It passed through tiny Bernardo as it led northeast from Peñasquitos to Ramona, eventually connecting with the Butterfield Stage Route at Warner Springs.

The history of Rancho San Bernardo began in the late 18th century when the King of Spain took possession of all land in California. In 1823, when Mexico gained its independence, the land became Mexico’s property. Don Jose Francisco Snook, a former English sea captain, received land grants from the Mexican government, including Rancho San Bernardo…

With the passing of the Mexican rancho era came the beginning of the American era, which is represented by the nearby Sikes Adobe Farmhouse. The restored farmhouse is a historic site that one can visit a short distance down the Coast to Crest Trail. (The Mule Hill Trail is a segment of the Coast to Crest Trail.)

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Las Posadas procession at Heritage County Park.

The 64th Annual Las Posadas procession was held this evening at Heritage County Park, in San Diego’s Old Town neighborhood.

At seven o’clock, Mary astride a donkey and Joseph began to slowly move up Heritage Park Row, followed by members of the public who held simulated candles.

It was the traditional Mexican reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem, shortly before the birth of Jesus.

There was a brief narration followed by short call–and–response verses at six stations, representing different inns in Bethlehem. The stations were located in front of the historic houses that stand preserved in Heritage County Park.

I had never experienced a Las Posadas procession before. I was surprised to see so many participants–young and old–on a very chilly December evening.

In the darkness my camera managed to capture these photos.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Altar de Muertos at County Administration Building.

Día de los Muertos is again being celebrated with an altar at the San Diego County Administration Building.

For 2022, the altar has greatly expanded. Composed of many sections, the altar now fills almost half the outdoor plaza on the east side of the building.

Numerous loved ones who’ve passed on are being remembered this year.

I happened to photograph the altars the past two years. Though equally moving, in size they were small compared to the 3rd Annual Altar de Muertos that I observed today.

It appears the Día de los Muertos tradition at the San Diego County Administration Center is strong and growing.

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Día de los Muertos at El Campo Santo.

At sundown this evening there will be a Día de los Muertos candlelight procession through Old Town. Those participating will end at San Diego’s old El Campo Santo cemetery, where many of our city’s earliest residents are buried.

This afternoon the small cemetery had already been decorated for Día de los Muertos.

A colorful altar stands near the entrance, just beyond the El Campo Santo historical marker. According to one sign I noticed, the Community Altar is by the Descendants of Old Town San Diego.

Marigolds and paper sugar skulls decorate gravesites, and the names of deceased loved ones have been scrawled in chalk on the cemetery wall along San Diego Avenue.

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I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Sugar skull face painting in Old Town!

Today San Diego is celebrating Día de los Muertos!

By mid-afternoon, people were streaming into Old Town. Many will participate in this evening’s candlelight procession down San Diego Avenue from the Immaculate Conception Church to El Campo Santo cemetery.

In preparation, some were having their faces traditionally painted as sugar skulls. Face painting artists had tables set up at several points along the sidewalk.

As I passed through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, then down San Diego Avenue, this is what my camera encountered!

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Colorful mural enlivens Barrio Logan fence!

Check out this awesome mural in Barrio Logan!

The symbolic artwork was painted on a wooden fence on Logan Avenue south of Evans Street. I spotted it yesterday.

The local artist is Jessica Petrikowski (@artbypetrikowski). Very colorful Aztec imagery is accompanied by two hummingbirds. I believe that’s Quetzalcoatl on the left and his rival “opposite” Tezcatlipoca. The pair of touching hummingbirds are of the same two colors. Throughout the mural, sprouting green life rises from the earth.

This mural was painted a little over year ago. The spray paint art that previously decorated this same fence was also by Jessica. You can see a photo of that old mural among others in this blog post.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

La Playa Trail marker in Roseville.

In Point Loma’s Roseville neighborhood, at the intersection of Rosecrans Street and Avenida de Portugal, you’ll find a historical marker between two benches. Six similar markers were placed along San Diego’s historic La Playa Trail back in the 1930s.

According to their website, this replacement marker was the project of the La Playa Trail Association. All of the markers feature a bas-relief of an Indian and a Mexican carreta (or ox cart), and were designed by Old Town sculptor, Rose Hanks.

I happened to walk by this particular marker the other day and realized I hadn’t yet photographed it.

The La Playa Trail is considered the oldest commercial route in the western United States. In the past, I’ve photographed a few other La Playa Trail markers and provided more information. If you’re curious, you can see that here.

La Playa Trail. An ancient Kumeyaay path that became the oldest commercial trail in the western United States. La Playa Trail Association, 2010.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Día de los Muertos altars in Old Town.

Many beautiful Día de los Muertos altars can now be viewed in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. They were built for Mexico’s traditional Día de los Muertos celebration, which begins in a little over a week. The holiday stretches from November 1st to 2nd.

Several of the beautiful altars you are about to see have been installed in historical buildings that operate in the State Park as free museums. These altars pay tribute to people who lived in early San Diego.

Today I and several other visitors enjoyed an educational tour of four particular altars. Our friendly and knowledgeable guide was Aaron, whom I’d seen a few minutes prior to the tour hammering away in Old Town’s Blacksmith Shop!

Our group began in front of the Robinson-Rose Visitor Information Center, where we learned about the history of Día de los Muertos, its origin, meaning, and the rich symbolism contained in the traditional altars. You can learn all about the Day of the Dead by checking out this Wikipedia page here.

Our group began by looking at a small altar set up on a cart by the Visitor Center’s front door. The touching altar honored and remembered Old Town State Park volunteers who had passed on from this life.

Over 4 million visitors come to this State Park every year, including many school children. Without dedicated volunteers, maintaining the vibrancy of this very special place wouldn’t be possible.

We then proceeded across a corner of Old Town’s grassy plaza to La Casa de Machado y Silvas, which is now the Commercial Restaurant museum. Inside, we learned about this old adobe’s history.

In one room of the historic adobe a large, beautiful altar paid tribute to many notable residents of San Diego in the mid-1800s.

Some photographs in the altar showed relatives of María Antonia and her husband, José Antonio Nicasio Silvas. The newly married couple was gifted this house by María’s father José Manuel Machado, who commanded the military guards at nearby Mission San Diego.

Next came an altar inside La Casa de Machado y Stewart. The images in this altar are of José Manuel Machado and his wife María Serafina Valdez de Machado.

The two raised eleven children. Their daughter, Rosa Machado, married a New Englander named John “Jack” Collins Stewart and thereby inherited this house. Stewart was a shipmate of famous author Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who described a visit to the house in Two Years Before the Mast.

It was interesting to see that the ofrendas (offerings) on the floor in front of this altar include playing cards, a pipe and liquor!

Food and objects that brought pleasure in life are meant to entice souls back to our world–at least during Día de los Muertos.

Our group finally headed to the small historic San Diego Union Building, where an altar remembered two figures in the early history of our city’s major newspaper.

The photos are of Edward “Ned” Bushyhead and José Narciso Briseño. Bushyhead was not only a Cherokee miner and lawman, but he was the newspaper’s first publisher. Briseño, a native of Chile, was the printer.

This altar is quite unusual in that it contains a pile of sorts–small typesetting pieces used to assemble words, that were subsequently printed in columns on sheets of paper using a hand press.

The next two altars that I photographed today were not part of the tour.

The following example on a cart can be found in Wallach & Goldman Square, among many shops. I know nothing specific about it…

And finally, probably the most impressive of all the Old Town altars is the one inside the sala (living room) of La Casa de Estudillo.

The sprawling adobe and its beautiful courtyard, built by Presidio comandante José María Estudillo and his son, lieutenant José Antonio Estudillo, became San Diego’s social and religious center during the Mexican and early American periods.

Most Californio families, like the Estudillos, were Roman Catholic…traveling priests performed weddings, baptisms, and memorial services here in the Sala for the people of San Diego.

I encourage those visiting Old Town San Diego State Historic Park this week to sign up for the daily 3 pm Día de los Muertos altar tour. A limited number of people can participate. The guided tour lasts a little less than an hour.

You can sign up at the counter inside the Robinson-Rose Visitor Information Center!

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Preparing for Día de los Muertos in Bonita!

Día de los Muertos is just two weeks away!

During my visit yesterday to the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center, I saw how members of the community, including local students, are preparing for the traditional celebration.

Check out the above skeleton, who is using an oar to cross the river from the afterlife. The designs on the boat were painted by Bonita youth!

For Día de los Muertos, the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center will display many handmade skeletons suspended outdoors near this fellow rowing his boat, plus altars (ofrendas) remembering loved ones who’ve passed on. The beautiful altars will be assembled by local artists, including Maricruz Alvarado and Anna Siqueiros. For more information, see the museum’s event calendar here.

I learned the boat in my photographs will probably be filled with marigolds. The bright color and scent of marigolds is said to attract departed souls to Día de los Muertos altars.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!