Bells ring in San Diego for Constitution Day!

Fred Grand, President of the Old Town Chamber of Commerce, reads a proclamation during a special Constitution Day ceremony.
Fred Grand, President of the Old Town Chamber of Commerce, reads a proclamation during a special Constitution Day ceremony.

Bells rang in San Diego at exactly one o’clock this Sunday afternoon to celebrate Constitution Day. A special ceremony took place on the steps of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Old Town, where a gathering of people rang bells they had brought for the occasion.

The patriotic ceremony was organized by the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and featured a proclamation by Fred Grand, President of the Old Town Chamber of Commerce. Attendees also sang the Star-Spangled Banner, America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee), America the Beautiful, and God Bless America.

To celebrate the United States Constitution and the freedoms the document guarantees all citizens, many bells rang today simultaneously all across America. Bells pealed in Pennsylvania, where the United States Constitution was signed by delegates to the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.

The Daughters of the American Revolution supports Old Town and have for almost 100 years. You can see their historical markers on the big rock in the southeast corner of the grassy Plaza de las Armas, at the Casa de Estudillo, the Cosmopolitan Hotel, the San Diego Union print shop, the Rockin Baja restaurant (over their front doorway), and another on Taylor Street near Presidio Drive. The DAR will soon be placing another marker at the site of the First San Diego Courthouse.

Priest of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Old Town talks to people in front of the historic church after Sunday Mass.
Priest of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Old Town talks to people in front of the historic church after Sunday Mass.
At one'o'clock, people of many backgrounds and beliefs gather on the church steps to celebrate the United States Constitution, which enshrines human liberty.
At one o’clock, people of many backgrounds and beliefs gather on the church steps to celebrate the United States Constitution, which enshrines individual human liberty.
This old bell of the Daughters of the American Revolution features an inscription from the United States Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This old bell of the Daughters of the American Revolution features an inscription from the United States Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
One historical plaque, which marks the end of the Kearney Trail in Old Town San Diego, was placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1920.
One historical plaque, which marks the end of the Kearney Trail in Old Town San Diego, was placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1920.
Another historical marker placed by the DAR can be found in Old Town's Casa de Estudillo.
Another historical marker placed by the DAR can be found inside Old Town’s Casa de Estudillo.
Kathleen Winchester, historian of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, is presented with an official proclamation on Constitution Day.
Kathleen Winchester, historian of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, is presented with an official proclamation on Constitution Day.
The patriotic gathering sings The Star-Spangled Banner.
The patriotic gathering sings The Star-Spangled Banner.

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9/11 Firefighter’s legacy: Two Sons and Stickball.

Tampa Chargers huddle up during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers huddle up during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. Photo by Margie Jones.

An important event in San Diego history took place over the Labor Day weekend. It involved a firefighter hero who saved lives during 9/11, his two sons, and the game of stickball.

The following inspirational article is contributed by Margie Jones of 4 Heroes 4 Life:

The 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy was one of the largest in its 19 year history with a field of 16 teams, four from New York and one from Tampa Bay, Florida. New York transplant Bob Ortiz and a group of players brought the Bronx-style tradition of street baseball to California in the early 1990s, later passing the torch to brothers Louie and Joey Centanni.

This year’s tournament held a special meaning for the San Diego and New York stickball communities, bringing the return of Skylar and Austin Mercado, sons of former Emperor’s Stickball League President Steve Mercado. Mercado and his family brought the team to San Diego from the Bronx in 2001 when the boys were 6 and 2 years old. The Mercado family made a lasting impression on many San Diegans, including SD City Firefighter and Stickball League Commissioner Willie Blas and Fire Marshal Mark George. After saying their goodbyes, Steve returned to NYC and went straight to work on 9/11, courageously saving lives. He was one of 12 of 13 from Engine 40 and Ladder 35 to lose their lives on that day, along with over 400 NYC first responders.

This weekend, Skylar and Austin Mercado brought the legacy of their Dad and Grandfather to Stickball in San Diego. Their team, the Tampa Chargers, was undefeated going into the Championship Game on Monday but could not best the local Sultans of Swat, who took home the trophy this year. We hope the Mercados experienced the outpouring of love and support for these two fine young men, their family, and the entire NYC community of heroes.

So that Steve and all heroes on that day will be NEVER FORGOTTEN, Mark and Willie as sponsored by 4 Heroes 4 Life and Veteran Adventures will be hosting a 9/11 NEVER FORGOTTEN Charity Golf Tournament and Community Extravaganza on September 11. Proceeds of the event will benefit the Steven Mercado Foundation, and funds for Engine 40 and Ladder 35, and the NYC Emergency Fund. This is the first of an annual event on 9/11 as an opportunity to bring community together in support of our fallen heroes and for our nation’s healing. Please join us. Register or donate here.

Commemorative bat honoring 9/11 firefighter Steve Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Commemorative bat honoring 9/11 firefighter Steve Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers' Austin Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers’ Austin Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers' Skylar Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers’ Skylar Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Power hitting. Photo by Margie Jones.
Swinging with heart on a San Diego street. Photo by Margie Jones.
2017 Championship Game final score. Photo by Margie Jones.
2017 Championship Game final score. Photo by Margie Jones.
Stickball family. Photo by Margie Jones.
Stickball brings many together. Photo by Margie Jones.

Ron English’s POPaganda art exhibit at Comic-Con.

A humorous sculpture stands on the sidewalk outside the Ron English POPaganda art exhibit in San Diego.
A humorous sculpture stands on the sidewalk outside the Ron English POPaganda art exhibit in San Diego.

There’s a small but eye-popping exhibit a few blocks from most of the Comic-Con action that many art lovers should enjoy–particularly those who are fans of Ron English and his style of humorous, anti-corporate art.

I visited his POPaganda exhibit and captured a few photos to provide an idea of what you will see. This is the first US stop of his “Make America GRIN Again” tour. I wonder who is grinning? Personally, I found it a bit ironic that the effort to sell profuse merchandise seems to eclipse his few (but delightful) pieces of anti-consumerist art. But what do I know?

You can find this fun pop-up exhibit at 1037 J Street. It’s open Wednesday through Saturday 11:00am to 6:00pm. Ron English will be present and signing from 3:00pm to 5:00pm, Thursday through Saturday.

The Statue of Liberty is grinning like a skull during 2017 Comic-Con.
The Statue of Liberty is grinning like a skull during 2017 Comic-Con.
Looks like a Hulkish, supersized Ronald McDonald with red stretchy pants. He must work out after taking in all those calories.
Looks like a Hulkish, supersized Ronald McDonald with red stretchy pants. He must work out after taking in all those calories.
It's Sugar Diabetic Bear!
It’s Sugar Diabetic Bear!
Looks somewhat like Franken Berry. Uh, oh! This exhibit is making me hungry for sugary cereal!
Looks somewhat like Franken Berry. Uh, oh! This subversive exhibit is making me hungry for sugary cereal!

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!

Comic-Con events announced for Horton Plaza Park!

A huge IMAX movie screen is being set up in Horton Plaza Park for 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!
A huge IMAX movie screen is being set up in Horton Plaza Park for 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!

I just learned a bunch of cool events are coming to Horton Plaza Park for 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!

On Thursday at 7:30pm there will be an exclusive IMAX movie. I saw them setting up the equipment an hour or so ago. At the time of this posting I still don’t know what movie! (UPDATE! The movie is NOT Atomic Blonde as I surmised, but something else entirely. It’s called #IMAXandThrill, an exclusive IMAX Experience, featuring the one-of-a-kind IMAX pop-up theatre that you see in my photo!)

On Friday from 10am-4pm Netflix will be giving away branded koozies in the park.

On Saturday from 12pm-4pm there will be a Nickelodeon ice cream cart with free ice cream sandwiches. They will be promoting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

On Saturday 6pm-7:30pm there will be an ATOMIC BLONDE fan event that requires a Comic-Con badge.

On Sunday 4pm-4:30pm there will be a Cartoon Network Steven Universe music video taping open to the public, and a big surprise is promised!

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 pics from World Baseball Classic in San Diego!

Team USA fans in line to buy merchandise at Petco Park during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego.
Team USA fans in line to buy merchandise at Petco Park during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego.

Team USA beat Venezuela tonight in an exciting World Baseball Classic game in San Diego! The United States won 4-2 with an amazing come-from-behind victory! Today’s baseball game was the second in a round robin between four international teams– the Second Round’s Pool F.

I’ve got an assortment of fun photos! It was a perfect San Diego evening to take in the sights, sounds, pageantry and great play of what turned out to be classic baseball game!

Fans for the four different teams in the World Baseball Classic's Second Round Pool F could be seen all around San Diego's Petco Park.
Fans of the four different teams in the World Baseball Classic’s Second Round Pool F could be seen all around San Diego’s Petco Park.
Fans of all ages were having fun before the game began in the Park at the Park.
Baseball lovers of all ages were having fun before the game began in the Park at the Park.
Some outrageous costumes and lots of patriotic clothing could be seen all about the stadium.
Some outrageous costumes and lots of patriotic clothing could be seen all about the baseball stadium. And many Padres fans, too!
It's approaching game time. Fans walk up a ramp to the upper level.
It’s approaching game time. Families walk up a ramp to the upper level.
Fans at the World Baseball Classic in San Diego point to the outfield.
Fans at the World Baseball Classic in San Diego point to the outfield.
Fans of Team USA watch their baseball heroes warm up on the field before the game.
Young supporters of Team USA watch their baseball heroes warm up on the field before the game.
Players for Team USA come out of the dugout for the opening ceremony.
Players for Team USA come out of the dugout for the opening ceremony.
Players for both Venezuela and the United States were given a rousing introduction.
Players for both Venezuela and the United States were given a rousing introduction.
Fans watching the opening ceremony hold up an American flag.
Team USA fans watching the opening ceremony hold up an American flag.
The players for the United States and Venezuela shake hands at the end of the opening ceremony.
The players for the United States and Venezuela shake hands at the end of the opening ceremony.
The game has begun! It's a beautiful evening for baseball in San Diego, of course!
The game has begun! It’s a beautiful evening for baseball in San Diego, of course!  Even some Dodgers fans have come to Petco Park for the fun.
Venezuela is at bat as the sun sets and Petco's lights come on. They were first to score.
Venezuela is at bat as the sun sets and Petco’s lights come on. Venezuela has a great team and was first to score.
As I walked about the stadium, I took a photo of the Chair of Honor. The empty chair honors prisoners of war and those missing in action.
As I walked about Petco Park, which USA Today rated the finest stadium in Major League Baseball, I took a photo of the Chair of Honor. The empty chair represents Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.
Team USA loaded the bases in the early innings, but unfortunately failed to score.
Team USA loaded the bases in the early innings, but unfortunately failed to score.
These fans of Team USA scored, however, on the Kiss Cam!
These fans of Team USA scored, however, on the Kiss Cam!
George Washington was in attendance, rooting on Team USA during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego! And his team won!
George Washington was in attendance, rooting on Team USA during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego! And his team won!

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!

San Diego Padres charity efforts: time to step up!

Tony Gwynn statue with Showley Bros. Candy Factory in background.

The Chargers are leaving San Diego. Not only will local football fans suffer, but so might various charities who have benefited from the past generosity of the Chargers football team.

Time for the San Diego Padres to step up and fill the void!

I, along with thousands of other San Diego residents, would be overjoyed to see our beloved baseball team step up to bat at this critical time. I’m thinking in particular of the very important annual blood drive that has been hosted by the Chargers for many years.

The Padres now have an opportunity to touch even more lives in a positive way, by filling community needs caused by the Chargers’ departure from San Diego. Let’s turn this negative into a positive!

UPDATE!  A summer Padres Blood Drive was announced during the Celebrate San Diego event!  Yay!

Groundbreaking at Balboa Park’s International Cottages!

People gather for an important groundbreaking in Balboa Park. Five new cottages will be the home of nine nations at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
San Diego residents with diverse backgrounds gather for an important groundbreaking in Balboa Park. Five new cottages will be the home of nine nations at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.

Today was an exciting day in Balboa Park! A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, where nine member nations look forward to eventually moving into five brand new cottages! Because there is limited space in this particular area of Balboa Park, four of the cottages will be duplexes shared by eight nations; the fifth will be home to the House of the Philippines.

Colorfully dressed representatives from the Philippines, Peru, Mexico, India, Lebanon, Turkey, Panama, Korea and Palestine (not presently a nation, but a culture) participated in the groundbreaking. If all goes according to plan, they’ll have their cottages completed by the end of 2017, just in time for December Nights!

As many in San Diego know, several changes and improvements are coming to Balboa Park, including an underground parking garage behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, a very short distance from the cottages. A huge parking lot near the center of Balboa Park will be replaced with grass, gardens, walkways and more beautiful park! Following all of this construction should be quite interesting! Stay tuned!

A gentleman from the House of Palestine stands near a flag where a new cottage will be built that showcases Palestinian culture.
A friendly gentleman from the House of Palestine stands near a flag where a new cottage will be built that showcases Palestinian culture.
Three duplex cottages will be built in this area south of the existing cottages, behind the House of Ukraine and House of the United States.
Three duplex cottages will be built in this area south of the existing cottages, directly behind the House of Ukraine and House of the United States.
Two ladies in colorful dress enter the Hall of Nations Building for a special groundbreaking reception.
Two ladies in colorful dress enter the Hall of Nations Building for a special groundbreaking reception.
The Hall of Nations Building has been used on a rotating basis by member nations who don't presently have a cottage. Today a reception was held inside celebrating the groundbreaking of five new international cottages.
The Hall of Nations Building has been used on a rotating basis by member nations who don’t presently have a cottage. Today a reception was held inside celebrating the groundbreaking of five new international cottages.
Two cottages will be built in this area, north of the House of Iran and the Hall of Nations Building. In this photo a crowd is gathering for the historic groundbreaking ceremony.
Two cottages will be built in this area, north of the House of Iran and the Hall of Nations Building. In this photo a crowd is gathering for the historic groundbreaking ceremony.
The original House of Pacific Relations cottages were built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. Pacific means peaceful, and that was the intent of the cottages--to promote friendship between nations and mutual understanding.
The original House of Pacific Relations cottages were built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. Pacific means peaceful, and that is the intent of the cottages–to promote friendship between nations and mutual understanding.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer addresses those attending the long-awaited groundbreaking. Many dignitaries spoke, and those who are working hard to complete the expansion were honored.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer addresses those attending the long-awaited groundbreaking. Many dignitaries spoke, and those who’ve been working tirelessly to complete the expansion were honored.
Beauty queens from the House of Panama stood proudly with others near the podium.
Beauty queens from the House of Panama stood proudly with others near the podium.
The nine member nations who will be receiving new cottages all participated in the traditional groundbreaking ceremony. Lifting these shovels are representatives from the House of Korea.
The nine member nations who will be receiving new cottages all participated in the traditional groundbreaking ceremony. Lifting these shovels are representatives from the House of Korea.

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