Photos of Las Posadas Celebration in Old Town.

The Dickens Carolers sing during the annual Las Posadas event in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
The Dickens Carolers sing during the annual Las Posadas event in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

This afternoon I headed to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to experience the annual Las Posadas Celebration. There were many families in the park enjoying all sorts of holiday activities, gazing at beautiful decorations, and preparing to witness the reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter before the birth of Jesus.

Las Posadas is a Christmas tradition cherished by many Latinos and Spaniards. A candlelight procession after nightfall by members of the community symbolizes the Nativity. Angels and shepherds join along the way. Mary rides a live donkey. There is much joyful singing.

My camera is inadequate after dark. To see (and hear) tonight’s procession in Old Town, you’ll have to use your imagination.

The 67th Annual Las Posadas Celebration in Old Town celebrates rich holiday traditions. A candlelight procession after dark reenacted the journey of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus.
The 67th Annual Las Posadas Celebration in Old Town celebrated a rich holiday tradition. A candlelight procession after dark reenacted the journey of Mary and Joseph in search of shelter before the birth of Jesus.
As evening approaches, paper bag luminaries containing candles are placed around the central Plaza de Las Armas.
As evening approaches, paper bag luminaries containing candles are placed around the central Plaza de las Armas.
A big festive Christmas tree stands near the plaza's center, beside the tall flagpole.
A big festive Christmas tree stands near the plaza’s center, beside the tall flagpole.
Looking out the front door of the Casa de Estudillo at Old Town San Diego's big Christmas tree.
Looking out the front door of the Casa de Estudillo at Old Town San Diego’s big Christmas tree.
A shiny star-like pinata hangs in front of the Colorado House.
A shiny star-like pinata hangs in front of the Colorado House. This is where the holiday celebration would reach its joyful climax.
Santa wishes everyone a Merry little Christmas inside Toby's Candle and Soap Shop.
Santa wishes everyone a Merry little Christmas inside Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop.
A colorful holiday wagon containing red poinsettias is parked outside Toby's Candle and Soap Shop.
A colorful holiday wagon containing red poinsettias is parked outside Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop.
Kids activities during Las Posadas included making Christmas tree ornaments.
Kids activities during Las Posadas included making Christmas tree ornaments.
This holiday wreath is decorated with spools of thread! It hangs on a door at Threads of the Past.
This holiday wreath is decorated with spools of thread! It hangs on a door at Threads of the Past.
A big wreath adds holiday cheer to the sunlit Seeley Stable Museum barn.
A big wreath adds holiday cheer to the sunlit Seeley Stable Museum barn.
As daylight wanes, families congregate around a campfire and roast marshmallows for s'mores.
As daylight wanes, families congregate around a campfire and roast marshmallows for s’mores.
A special holiday display inside the Robinson-Rose Visitor Center talks about Louis Rose, the first Jewish person to settle in San Diego.
A special display inside the Robinson-Rose Visitor Center describes the life of Louis Rose, the first Jewish person to settle in San Diego.
Reenacting a Hanukkah Candle Lighting Blessing inside the historic Robinson-Rose Visitor Center.
Reenacting a Hanukkah Candle Lighting Blessing inside the historic Robinson-Rose Visitor Center.

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Fun photos of 2017 Christmas on the Prado!

Energetic elves run about the colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park!
Energetic elves run about the colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park!

Look at all these fun photos! I took them today in Balboa Park, where the 2017 Community Christmas Center’s “Christmas on the Prado” is being held, even as I type this.

I caught the very beginning of the annual family-friendly event. Various activities and musical entertainment on the stage of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion emphasize the religious importance and meaning of Christmas. The central feature is an extensive life-size nativity display showing Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.

When I walked around Balboa Park during the afternoon, I noticed other holiday decorations are going up all throughout the park. Next weekend the big December Nights event will be held, which is one of the nation’s most popular and spectacular holiday festivals!

Even with that smile, you can't fool me Mrs. Claus! That's not really Santa!
Even with that smile, you can’t fool me Mrs. Claus! That’s not a real Santa!
A bunch of folk from the North Pole were getting ready as Christmas on the Prado was almost set to open.
A bunch of folk from the North Pole were getting ready among toys as Christmas on the Prado was almost set to open.
These outstanding U.S. Marines were collecting Toys for Tots during the annual family-friendly event.
These outstanding U.S. Marines were collecting Toys for Tots during the annual family-friendly event.
I learned kids would be playing pin-the-carrot-on-the-snowman!
I learned kids would be playing pin-the-carrot-on-the-snowman!
First up to sing were those elves. They attend Dailard Elementary School. Funny songs included Silly Humans and Elfie Selfie.
First up to sing were those elves. They attend Dailard Elementary School. Funny songs included Silly Humans and Elfie Selfie.
Lots of parents were in the large crowd waving.
Lots of parents were in the large crowd waving.
This elf probably thought I was a silly human, who asked her to smile for my camera!
This elf probably thought I was a silly human, who asked her to smile for my camera!
Christmas on the Prado emphasizes the religious importance of the holiday. Scenes in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion show Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.
Christmas on the Prado emphasizes the religious importance of the holiday. Scenes in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion show Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.
I spy four smiling faces in this photo. Can you count them?
I spy four smiling faces in this photo. Can you count them?
As the evening becomes chilly, a line will form at the Gingerbread House for cookies, cocoa and coffee.
As the evening becomes chilly, a line will form at the Gingerbread House for cookies, cocoa and coffee.

Here are some additional photos from around Balboa Park today. The first two I took at the International Cottages…

A beautiful small Christmas tree inside the House of Sweden cottage.
A beautiful small Christmas tree inside the House of Sweden cottage.
Visitors to the House of Norway were making all sorts of holiday crafts.
Visitors to the House of Norway cottage were making all sorts of holiday crafts.
Artists were selling their work not far from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. I spied some truly amazing Christmas artwork created by Katrina Bittar. I learned that the core of each delicate piece is papier-mâché.
Artists were selling their work on some grass near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. I spied some truly amazing Christmas artwork created by Katrina Bittar. I learned that the core of each delicate piece is papier-mâché.
All sorts of fun holiday stuff can be found in Balboa Park's Spanish Village Art Center. Seems it's going to be a Meowy Christmas!
All sorts of fun holiday stuff can be found in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center. Appears it’s going to be a Meowy Christmas!
I bought 3 bags of cookies from this happy elf in front of the Casa del Prado. I believe funds were being raised for the San Diego Junior Theatre.
I bought 3 bags of cookies from this happy elf in front of the Casa del Prado. I believe funds were being raised for the San Diego Junior Theatre.
A bunch of elves are running loose in Balboa Park!
A bunch of elves are running loose in 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!

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 photos for you to enjoy!

Mormon Battalion celebrates Flag Day in Old Town.

Mormon Battalion flag flies during a special event in Old Town San Diego.
Mormon Battalion flag flies during a special event in Old Town San Diego.

I was invited to a unique event that took place yesterday. A special Flag Day Ceremony was held at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site in San Diego’s Old Town. The event remembered World War I and saluted all American veterans.

During the ceremony five veterans from different military services were made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion. A cake was cut with a military saber and an American flag that has been flown over the U.S. Capital and over Fort Leavenworth (where the historic Mormon Battalion originated) was raised.

The patriotic ceremony was organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members composed the Mormon Battalion, the only religiously based unit in United States military history. Commanded by regular U.S. Army officers, members of the battalion marched almost 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego, California to help secure the region during the Mexican–American War. Much of the difficult march was over mountains and through desert. They saw no fighting.

I have noticed that Mormons treasure liberty–religious freedom in particular. I’m not a Mormon–very far from it–but I do happen to be a strong believer in personal liberty. That’s because I’m a writer. Also, as a child I traveled with my family behind the Iron Curtain twice. I have briefly seen how dark life is without liberty.

A friendly Mormon lady in pioneer dress welcomes guests to the Flag Day Celebration.
A friendly Mormon lady in pioneer dress welcomes guests to the Flag Day Celebration.
This 2017 celebration of Flag Day honored veterans who served with distinction.
This 2017 celebration of Flag Day honored veterans who served with distinction.
Guests are welcomed by Director of the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site, Elder Michael Hemingway.
Guests are welcomed by Director of the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site, Elder Michael Hemingway.
The United States flag is posted after the National Anthem.
The United States flag is posted after the National Anthem.
Folding of the flag. Each of the thirteen folds is invested with a special meaning.
Folding of the flag. Each of the thirteen folds is invested with a special meaning.
Four American veterans on stage are honored and made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion.
Four American veterans on stage are applauded and made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion.
Keynote speaker General Bruce Carlson, USAF, Ret. talks about liberty. He is also made an honorary member of the Mormon Battalion.
Keynote speaker General Bruce Carlson, USAF, Ret. talks about liberty. He is also made an honorary member of the Mormon Battalion.
Many voices sing God Bless America.
Many voices sing God Bless America.
Young members of Marine Band San Diego after the ceremony.
Young members of Marine Band San Diego after the ceremony.
The United States Marine Corps bus contains an image of the flag being raised during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The United States Marine Corps bus contains an image of the flag being raised during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Pageantry and remembrance at a Flag Day Ceremony in Old Town San Diego.
Pageantry and remembrance at a Flag Day Ceremony in Old Town San Diego.

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 stained glass windows of The Abbey.

Stained glass window and reflection in a mirror inside The Abbey on Fifth Avenue, originally the Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church.
Stained glass window, and its reflection in a mirror, inside The Abbey on Fifth Avenue.  The building was originally the Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church.

I’ve walked past The Abbey on Fifth Avenue many times over the years. I often pause to admire the monumental building’s Classical Revival style exterior and take a photo or two. But last weekend I finally ventured inside.

That’s because The Abbey was open to the public during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017. It was one of several fascinating places that I visited!

The Abbey on Fifth Avenue is utilized by Hornblower Cruises in San Diego for private parties, weddings and corporate events. In 1910, however, when its doors were first opened to welcome the people of San Diego, the building was a place of worship: the Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church. A gleaming gold leaf statue of the angel Gabriel stands atop the roof, blowing his horn, summoning eyes around Bankers Hill. Approach the building and one sees its dozen stained glass windows illustrating figures from the Bible.

Stained glass when viewed from outside a building can often appear a bit dull and unremarkable. When seen from inside, however . . . words can barely express the feeling. It’s like finding the end of a rainbow. It’s like stepping into a light-filled heaven.

Please enjoy some photos of The Abbey’s exterior and interior.

Today the Abbey on Fifth Avenue is operated by Hornblower Cruises and Events. Built as a church in 1910, the building has undergone various changes over the years. In 1984 it became a restaurant.
Today the Abbey on Fifth Avenue is operated by Hornblower Cruises and Events. Built as a church in 1910, the building has undergone various changes over the years. In 1984 it became a restaurant.
Photo of The Abbey taken from the intersection of Olive Street and Fifth Avenue in the Bankers Hill neighborhood, near downtown San Diego. A new building is under construction on its north side.
Photo of The Abbey taken from the intersection of Olive Street and Fifth Avenue in the Bankers Hill neighborhood. A new building is under construction on the north side.
Stained glass windows seen from the outside.
Stained glass windows seen from the street outside.
The 1910 Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church was built in the Classical Revival style, which is quite unusual in San Diego.
The 1910 Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church was built in the Classical Revival style, which is quite unusual in San Diego.
Gabriel blows his horn. Light reflecting from the gold leaf shines brightly like the sun.
Gabriel blows his horn. Light reflecting from the gold leaf shines brightly like the sun.
This gorgeous stained glass skylight and purple floor lights tinting the walls make a memorable dining experience at these tables on the second floor of The Abbey.
This gorgeous stained glass skylight and purple floor lights tinting the walls make a memorable dining experience at these tables on the second floor of The Abbey.
Another dome of stained glass in the ceiling.
Another dome of stained glass in the ceiling.
These doors on the second floor have beautiful floral stained glass panels.
These doors on the second floor have beautiful floral stained glass panels.
The interior of The Abbey on Fifth Avenue is a wonderland of colorful light.
The interior of The Abbey on Fifth Avenue is a wonderland of colorful light.
People pause by one of the south-facing stained glass windows.
People pause by one of the south-facing stained glass windows.
These tables along the second floor overlook a large space where people might dance or mingle during a special event.
These tables along the second floor overlook a large space where people might dance or mingle during a special event.
Stained glass shows classical columns and a cross in a crown.
Stained glass shows classical columns and a cross in a crown.
If I recall, this stained glass panel was in a door on the second floor. Those appear to be grapes.
If I recall, this stained glass panel was in a door on the second floor. Those appear to be grapes.
More stained glass behind dining tables on the north side of the second floor.
More stained glass behind dining tables on the north side of the second floor.
The many stained glass windows seem to fill the historic building with magic.
The many stained glass windows seem to fill the historic building with magic.
Close look at one window.
Close look at one window.
Christ portrayed in one radiant window.
Christ portrayed in one radiant window.
Religious figures near wine glasses hanging in a bar on the second floor. An interesting juxtaposition.
Religious figures near wine glasses hanging in a bar on the second floor. An interesting juxtaposition.
The beautiful stained glass is both mysterious and penetrating.
The beautiful stained glass is both mysterious and penetrating.
Another vibrant stained glass window portrays a risen Christ in heaven.
Another vibrant stained glass window portrays a risen Christ in heaven.
A scene from the Bible. One of many stained glass windows that fill The Abbey on Fifth Avenue with color and life.
A scene from the Bible. One of many stained glass windows that fill The Abbey on Fifth Avenue with color and life.

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!

Angel hovers above homeless person.

An angel hovers above a homeless person.
An angel hovers above a homeless person.

I usually don’t post only one photograph, but I captured a remarkable image this morning, and thought some of you might like to see it. I was walking into the Panama-California Sculpture Court at the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park when I observed the standing figure titled “Religion” hovering like a heavenly angel above a homeless person sitting alone on a bench.

Joyful, colorful street art shows music in heaven.

A diverse choir of humans singing joyfully in heaven. The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo is represented with touching fingers producing musical notes.
A diverse choir of humans singing joyfully in heaven. The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo is represented with touching fingers producing musical notes.

There’s some uplifting street art in Mission Valley. It’s painted on a large electrical box on Camino del Rio South, between the Scottish Rite Masonic Event Center and the First United Methodist Church of San Diego, which also hosts the St. Francis and St. Tarcicius Catholic Church.

As you can see, this artwork depicts happy people singing and making music in heaven among angels. The musicians appear to include both Louis Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix.

A joyful, colorful vision of harmony!

Jimi Hendrix plays electric guitar in heaven in colorful street art.
Jimi Hendrix plays electric guitar in heaven in colorful street art.
Louis Armstrong plays his trumpet in heaven with an angel nearby. Some colorful street art painted on a large electrical box on Camino del Rio South in Mission Valley.
Louis Armstrong plays his trumpet in heaven with an angel nearby. Some happy street art painted on a large electrical box on Camino del Rio South in Mission Valley.
Musical street art near both First United Methodist Church of San Diego and St. Francis and St. Tarcicius Catholic Church. An imaginative glimpse of happiness and harmony in heaven.
Musical street art near both First United Methodist Church of San Diego and St. Francis and St. Tarcicius Catholic Church. An imaginative glimpse of happiness and harmony in heaven.

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!

A rainbow and sunlight on St. Joseph Cathedral.

Early morning sunshine brightens the east side of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego.
Early morning sunshine brightens the east side of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego.

Yesterday morning, just before I walked down from the top of Cortez Hill, I saw an incredible sight.  My eyes discerned a very faint rainbow to the west–even though only a few wispy clouds were in the blue sky.

To my surprise, the rainbow arched downward to touch the gleaming cross atop St. Joseph Cathedral. Amazed by the sight, I walked along Beech Street to take photos of bright morning sunlight on the cathedral itself.

The rainbow is so faint in my zoomed, cropped photo that I must confess I changed the contrast and brightness a million different ways and debated whether it even merited a blog post. I’ve decided it does.

Cool San Diego Sights might be a tad philosophical at times, but it intentionally avoids supporting any particular religious (or political) view. Because a sense of wonder and a love for beauty are shared by many. And because there’s enough bitter debate in this old world.

Whatever one might believe, seeing the rainbow above the shining gold was something wonderful to behold.

Sunlight on the high cathedral tower.
Sunlight on the high cathedral tower.
A very faint rainbow ends at the golden cross atop St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego. Photo taken the morning of February 20, 2017 from Cortez Hill--the corner of Cedar Street and Seventh Avenue, to be exact.
A faint rainbow ends at the golden cross atop St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego. Photograph taken the morning of February 20, 2017 from Cortez Hill–the corner of Cedar Street and Seventh Avenue, to be exact.  Brightness and contrast were altered to bring out the rainbow.
A beautiful morning provides inspiration.
A beautiful morning and early sunlight provide inspiration.

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!