Magic windows appear in Balboa Park!

Visitors to Balboa Park see a magical landscape from a window-like balcony high in the California Tower.
Visitors to Balboa Park see a magical landscape from a window-like balcony high up in the California Tower.

Visit Balboa Park and you’ll discover many magic windows. They appear wherever you turn.

I looked through many magic windows today…

Windows at the Japanese Friendship Garden look out at the Karesansui Dry Stone Garden, where magic gradually appears for those who are still.
Windows at the Japanese Friendship Garden look out at the Karesansui Dry Stone Garden, where magic gradually appears for those who are still.
A bamboo kakei spills droplets of magic into a liquid window.
A bamboo kakei spills droplets of magic into a liquid window.
A rock window has been opened and polished, revealing the Earth's inner magic at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building.
A rock window has been opened and polished, revealing the Earth’s inner magic at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building.
Small windows to magical creativity delight the eye at the San Diego History Center. A current exhibition concerns the art of Bob Matheny.
Small windows to magical creativity delight the eye at the San Diego History Center. A current exhibition concerns the art of Bob Matheny.
Good Question, Bob Matheny, wood and enamel paint, 1967. True magic will forever remain a mystery.
Good Question, Bob Matheny, wood and enamel paint, 1967. True magic will forever remain a mystery.
A feathered subject in a magically rippling window appears for a photographer in Balboa Park.
A feathered subject in a magically rippling window appears for a photographer in Balboa Park.
A window to nature's magic at the Botanical Building.
A delicate window to nature’s magic at the Botanical Building.
Looking up toward a lath skylight full of green magic.
Looking up toward a lath skylight full of green magic.
The magical qualities of song become visible for a few minutes near the House of Ukraine at the International Cottages.
The magical qualities of song become visible for a few minutes near the House of Ukraine at the International Cottages.
This small window-like scene at the House of China contains a fantastic, magical vision carved from cork!
This small window-like scene inside the House of China contains a fantastic, magical vision carved from cork!
A magic window at the House of Charm looks forward into the future. The Mingei International Museum is undergoing a major renovation and expansion.
A magic window at Balboa Park’s House of Charm looks forward into the future. The Mingei International Museum is undergoing a major renovation and expansion.
One of many fine sculptures in the Plaza de Panama, and a window of the San Diego Museum of Art. Beyond that window are galleries full of magic.
One of many fine sculptures in the Plaza de Panama, and a window of the San Diego Museum of Art. Beyond that window are galleries full of magic.
Reflections join magically together in two very different rear windows of the San Diego Museum of Art.
Cloud reflections join magically together in two very different rear windows at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Deep inside one magic Balboa Park lamp one can find the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.
Beyond this magic lamp’s window one can see the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.
Window panes contain old magic at the Old Globe Theatre.
Window panes contain old magic performed at the Old Globe Theatre.
Another window into the future. This advanced art student is phenomenal. I didn't get his name. I am certain he will achieve great magic.
Another window into the future. This advanced art student is phenomenal. I didn’t get his name. I am one hundred percent certain he will produce great magic.
Nature's magic on Balboa Park's West Mesa, in a window formed by my camera's lens.
Nature’s magic on Balboa Park’s West Mesa, in a window formed by my camera’s lens.
A portal to the magic sky opens in a wall at the Spanish Village Art Center.
A portal to the magic sky opens in a wall at the Spanish Village Art 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!

Do you love Balboa Park, too? Check out my other website Beautiful Balboa Park!

A beating heart, and neighboring stars.

I’ve written another short story. It’s titled A Heart That Would Not End.

This new story was inspired by my friend Mitchell the didgeridoo player.

Mitchell’s smile can be seen all around San Diego. Perhaps you’ve seen him playing one of his didgeridoos at Seaport Village or Balboa Park, or entertaining visitors inside the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park.

Not only does his music surge like the beating heart of the cosmos, but Mitchell has a deep interest in astronomy and our particular corner of the galaxy. He has created a unique Stellarium: a large three dimensional transparent cube filled with shining stars that represents our sun’s neighborhood. He has shown me photographs.

One day I hope to look into the Stellarium with my own eyes.

To read my new story, click here.

The triumphant return of the Spreckels Organ!

The amazing Spreckels Organ, largest outdoor musical instrument in the world and the joyful lungs of Balboa Park, made its triumphant return today!

After six weeks of silence because of a broken motor on the main blower, the Spreckels Organ is once again producing fantastic music, with a little help from San Diego’s world-famous Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

Raul began today’s concert with Johann Sebastian Bach’s powerful Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The talented San Diego Children’s Choir then took the stage to perform a variety of classical songs, including Franz Schubert’s moving Ave Maria.

To honor Veterans Day, Raul concluded the program by playing three John Philip Sousa compositions: Semper Fidelis, In Memoriam, and Stars and Stripes Forever.

In a troubled world where the flag often flies at half-staff, this Sunday we were reminded that human good can prevail. With a little dedication any broken instrument in this world–even the mighty Spreckels Organ–can be repaired.

I saw many smiles in the sunshine.

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!

Fun photos of the Sea Chantey Festival!

Today I enjoyed an extraordinary event. I boarded the Star of India at the Maritime Museum of San Diego and experienced the annual Sea Chantey Festival!

Here come fun photos!

You’ll see two musical groups performing in these photographs: first Raggle Taggle, then Kick up the Dust. Others groups who had the audience clapping their hands and dancing on the ship’s deck were the Jackstraws, Gemini Junction, Sportive Tricks, and The Chanteymen.

I saw many people in costume. I found myself in the company of pirates and sea captains and ladies in Victorian dress. Members of the Maritime Museum’s sail crews hauled ropes and climbed the rigging while traditional sea chanteys were sung.

Everyone jumped when two cannon shots rang out across San Diego Bay. Heads turned. Like a vision from the past, the official tall ship of the State of California, Californian, which is also one of the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s beautiful vessels, sailed on past.

It was pure magic. Every moment.

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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Scenes at Spreckels Organ on Silent Movie Night.

People gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of Silent Movie Night.
People begin to gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of the Silent Movie Night concert.

This evening I headed into Balboa Park to enjoy Silent Movie Night at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. This special annual event, featuring a silent movie accompanied by the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, is part of every International Summer Organ Festival.

The organist this evening–for the second year in a row–was Steven Ball, who plays the world’s largest indoor pipe organ at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Among his many accomplishments, he might be best known for being the organist at the Miss America beauty pageant!

The hilarious movie tonight was Safety Last (1923), starring physical comedy genius Harold Lloyd, who ranks with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular silent movie stars. I was interested to learn Harold Lloyd graduated from San Diego High School, which is located in Balboa Park, less than a mile from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

About an hour before the concert, I watched people arrive and claim their spots around the pavilion. Unable to sit still that long, I spent a few minutes wandering around nearby areas of Balboa Park, photographing the sun’s last rays in trees and on beautiful buildings.

The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball, including Hooray for Hollywood. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world's top organists.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world’s top organists.
Safety Last, 1923, is a comedy that features silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Safety Last, 1923, is a hilarious, crazy, heartwarming comedy that features popular silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
As late light illuminated the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about to take photos. Here's the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
As late sunlight slanted onto the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about taking a few photos. Here’s the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
Here's the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here’s the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here's the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
Here’s the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
When I returned, the crowd had grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws about 3000 people.
When I returned, the crowd had really grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws somewhere around 3000 people.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! As twilight arrived in Balboa Park, I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.

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 Navy Band Southwest Alumni Concert.

I enjoyed another special event today during my visit to Balboa Park. As I walked past the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I was surprised and happy to learn there would be a Navy Band Southwest Alumni Concert in the afternoon.

When I returned to the pavilion to listen to the concert, many present and past members of Navy Band Southwest were posing for a group photo by the colonnade. The concert soon began, and I snapped a few photos as I listened to the often rousing music, played with perfect precision.

All stood for the National Anthem. A few minutes later those braving the hot sun directly in front of the stage were privileged to hear an extremely talented duet sing a superb rendition of The Prayer by David Foster. What amazing voices. Personally, I got goosebumps. Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli have nothing on those two!

I’m sorry to say Cool San Diego Sights does not feature sound. But here are a few 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!

A smile and music brightens a San Diego day!

Gary Reid performs bluesy songs on San Diego's Embarcadero. He always greets me with a big smile when I pass by.
Gary Reid performs bluesy songs on San Diego’s Embarcadero. He always greets me with a big smile when I pass by.

Meet a guy who always makes me smile. His name is Gary Reid. I often pass him performing bluesy songs with his guitar as I walk along the Embarcadero near the USS Midway.

I didn’t realize until today that he has a CD, YouTube videos and other great stuff available online. He tells me he is available for gigs–just contact him by visiting his website here. His Facebook page is here.

His heart can be heard in his music. Give it a listen.

Gary Reid is a fine guitarist, singer and songwriter. Check out his website for some samples!
Gary Reid is a fine guitarist, singer and songwriter. Check out his website for some samples!
Gary Reid spreads gratitude and a love of life through music!
Gary Reid spreads gratitude and a love of life with his music!