A joyful celebration of Christmas in San Diego!

Second grade students from Dailard Elementary School fill Balboa Park with joyous song during 2018 Christmas on the Prado.
Second grade students from Dailard Elementary School fill Balboa Park with joyous song during 2018 Christmas on the Prado.

If you love Christmas and happen to be in San Diego this Sunday afternoon, head over to Balboa Park! It’s the second day of Christmas on the Prado!

The 5th Annual Children’s Coalition “Christmas on the Prado” will be held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and International Cottages from 1 – 4 pm, and will feature a special Christmas Concert by Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, lots of holiday treats, inspiring scenes of the Nativity, games and crafts for kids, cultural displays of Christmas Around the World, a reading of The Night Before Christmas by Mrs. Claus, and photos with good old Saint Nick himself!

Christmas on the Prado is a joyful two day holiday event that celebrates the birth of Christ and the generous spirit of Christmas.

Click here to learn more. (Christmas on the Prado continues to grow every year–but they can always use more volunteers and participants! I learned that church groups from all around San Diego are welcomed to come together and join the program! Why not?)

Yesterday I experienced the first day of this year’s event.

Here are some photographs . . .

Mrs. Claus greeted me in the early afternoon as Christmas on the Prado got underway.
Mrs. Claus greeted me in the early afternoon as Christmas on the Prado got underway.
Looking at eight beautiful scenes of the Nativity created by the Community Christmas Center, which was established in 1953 in Balboa Park.
Looking at eight beautiful scenes of the Nativity created by the Community Christmas Center, which was established in 1953 in Balboa Park.
Child is awed by a visiting angel.
Child sees a visiting angel.
Elsewhere in the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa confers with an elf before a photo is taken.
Elsewhere in the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa confers with an elf before a photo is taken.
Dozens of happy elves would be first to perform on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Dozens of happy, energetic elves would be first to perform on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Young singers from Dailard Elementary School treat the crowd to fun holiday music.
Young singers from Dailard Elementary School treat the crowd to fun holiday music.
The nearby International Cottages were celebrating Christmas Around the World. This beautiful creche in the Hall of Nations is from Peru.
The nearby International Cottages were celebrating Christmas Around the World. This beautiful creche in the Hall of Nations is from Peru.
These fun Christmas crafts were on display in the House of Sweden's cottage.
These fun Christmas crafts were on display in the House of Sweden’s cottage.
Christmas baskets made of paper and many hands inside the House of Norway's cottage.
Christmas baskets made of paper by many hands inside the House of Norway’s cottage.
The House of Hungary had their very beautiful Christmas sparkling for all to enjoy.
The House of Hungary had their very beautiful Christmas sparkling for all to enjoy.
The House of England was hoping that Father Christmas would Please Stop Here.
The House of England was hoping that Father Christmas would Please Stop Here.
Members of the House of Ireland prepare to sing among the International Cottages during Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
Members of the House of Ireland prepare to sing among the International Cottages during Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.
A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.
Back at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the super talented group Chamber Bravura performs. They've sung several times at Carnegie Hall!
Back at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the super talented group Chamber Bravura performs. They’ve sung several times at Carnegie Hall!
Chamber Bravura lifts hearts with Christmas song, combining popular carols with unexpected moments of humor.
Chamber Bravura lifts hearts with Christmas song, combining popular carols with unexpected bits of silly humor.
Jumping for treats at the Gingerbread House.
Jumping for treats at the Gingerbread House.
The Kearny Mesa Concert Band is almost ready to perform as the magical Spreckels Organ Pavilion lights come on.
The Kearny Mesa Concert Band is almost ready to perform as the magical Spreckels Organ Pavilion lights come on.
Lights also come on in the Nativity scenes. A beautiful depiction of Mary and Joseph with the Christ child, escaping to Egypt.
Lights also come on in the Nativity scenes. A beautiful depiction of Mary and Joseph with the Christ child, escaping to Egypt.
Jesus with the little children. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Jesus with the little children. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
More happy elves take the stage for a Christmas sing-along.
More happy elves take the stage for a Christmas sing-along.
The Sun Harbor Chorus Elves had many in the audience singing, clapping and ringing bells.
The Sun Harbor Chorus Elves had many in the audience singing, clapping and ringing bells.
The nose of an elf named Faith was getting cold, so Santa took a mini-Santa hat off the tree and put it on her nose. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
The nose of an elf named Faith was getting cold, so Santa took a mini-Santa hat off the tree and put it on her nose. Photo courtesy Bill Swank. (Thank you!)

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!

Mayflower descendants gather in Balboa Park!

I'm welcomed to Plimoth Plantation West in Balboa Park by two descendants of Mayflower Pilgrims!
I’m welcomed to Plimoth Plantation West in Balboa Park by two descendants of Mayflower Pilgrims!

Yesterday I swung by the International Cottages in Balboa Park to check out an absolutely unique event!

The Mayflower Society’s San Diego Colony had created Plimoth Plantation West, a representation of Pilgrim history and life, focusing on the arrival of the Pilgrims in the New World and their establishment of Plymouth Colony. The colorful event was organized in anticipation of an important day that will arrive in two years: the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower Landing in 1620.

I’m no expert when it comes to the history of the Pilgrims, so I was fascinated by many of the displays.

I learned about the Pilgrims’ various reasons for departing England, their journey across the Atlantic, the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the eventual anchoring off Cape Cod, the extreme hardships and many deaths during that first harsh winter, their friendly and not-so-friendly relations with several Native American tribes who lived in the region . . . even the sorts of games Pilgrim children enjoyed playing.

Many members of the Society of Mayflower Descendants were at the event in period costume, celebrating their ancestors and an important chapter in America’s early history. One gentleman I spoke to had descended directly from William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony!

Here are a few photos of Plimoth Plantation West!

If you are one of the 31 million possible Mayflower descendants worldwide, you can join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants!
If you are one of the 31 million possible Mayflower descendants worldwide, you can join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants!
Someone points to a chart showing the original Mayflower passengers. Less than half survived and made it to the first Thanksgiving in 1621.
Someone points to a chart showing the original Mayflower passengers. Less than half survived and made it to the first Thanksgiving in 1621.
The Mayflower Compact, signed aboard ship, was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It specified basic laws and social rules for the new colony.
The Mayflower Compact, signed aboard ship, was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It specified basic laws and social rules for the new colony.
This friendly gent was dressed like William Brewster, a respected elder and leader of Plymouth Colony.
This friendly gent was dressed like religious separatist William Brewster, a respected elder and leader of Plymouth Colony.
A timeline of Pilgrim history begins with the formation of the Church of England. Puritans sought to eliminate retained Catholic practices. Separatists created secret congregations.
A timeline of Pilgrim history begins with the formation of the Church of England. Puritans sought to eliminate retained Catholic practices. Separatists created secret congregations.
One gentleman was demonstrating the use of a quill and inkwell. I learned ink was often made from berry juices, and turkey and goose feathers were primarily used for quills.
One gentleman was demonstrating the use of a quill and inkwell. I learned ink was often made from berry juices, and turkey and goose feathers were primarily used for quills.
Educational tools used by the Pilgrims included a Child's Hornbook, a form of children's primer containing the letters of the alphabet.
Educational tools used by the Pilgrims included a Child’s Hornbook, a form of children’s primer containing the letters of the alphabet.
Pilgrim children enjoyed very simple toys and games, and small crudely made dolls.
Pilgrim children enjoyed simple games and toys, like spinning tops, and small crudely made dolls.
The descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims gather for a special event in San Diego's Balboa Park!
The descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims gather for a special event in San Diego’s always lively 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!

Photos of North Park’s Day of the Dead festival!

The 2nd Annual Day of the Dead North Park Festival had a couple blocks of Ray Street overflowing with color and life!
The 2nd Annual Day of the Dead North Park Festival had a couple blocks of Ray Street overflowing with color and life!

Today I checked out the Day of the Dead festival in North Park!

The annual festival, which is only in its second year, was held on two blocks of Ray Street just south of University Avenue. I couldn’t believe the size of the crowd enjoying this relatively modest event celebrating Día de los Muertos!

All of the cherished Day of the Dead traditions could be found, including a large, beautiful altar and lots of face painting, and, of course, some elegantly dressed Catrinas strolling about. There was also abundant Mexican music, themed artwork and yummy food!

This is definitely a festival that should grow in popularity!

Many costumes celebrating Día de los Muertos (and also Halloween) could be seen about the fun North Park festival.
Many costumes celebrating Día de los Muertos (and also Halloween) could be seen about the fun North Park festival.
Boy poses for photo as a Day of the Dead skeleton with top hat.
Boy poses for photo as a Day of the Dead skeleton with top hat.
A traditional Día de los Muertos altar remembers loved ones who've passed from this life.
A traditional Día de los Muertos altar remembers loved ones who’ve passed from this life.
Kids and adults could color a calavera, or decorative skull.
Kids and adults could color a calavera, or decorative skull.
Lots of Day of the Dead themed merchandise could be found at various vendor booths about the festival.
Lots of Day of the Dead merchandise could be found at various vendor tables about the festival.
Some Día de los Muertos items for sale included Catrina dolls, orange marigolds and colorful calaveras.
Some Día de los Muertos items for sale included Catrina dolls, orange marigolds and colorful calaveras.
Many faces at the festival had been painted to resemble sugar skulls.
Many faces at the festival had been painted to resemble sugar skulls.
All sorts of characters from the popular culture have been transformed into Day of the Dead refrigerator magnets.
Characters from the popular culture have been transformed into these Day of the Dead refrigerator magnets!
I see a shirt with a Mexican lucha libre wrestling mask. Seems appropriate in this photo!
I see a hanging shirt printed with the image of a Mexican lucha libre mask. Seems appropriate in this photo!
Another small altar (or ofrenda) included photos of deceased loved ones, papel picado, and pan de muerto.
Another small altar (or ofrenda) includes photos of deceased loved ones, papel picado, and pan de muerto.
Mariachis performed joyful music for the crowd at one end of the city block.
Mariachis performed joyful music for the crowd at one end of the city block.
Día de los Muertos is celebrated in North Park. It's a new local tradition that promises to grow ever more popular!
Día de los Muertos is celebrated in North Park. It’s a new local tradition that promises to grow even more popular!

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!

Remembering loved ones on Day of the Dead.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, returns this coming Wednesday, October 31. Many in San Diego will observe the Mexican holiday, a festive span of three days that coincides with All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

Day of the Dead is woven with long-lived traditions respecting human love and loss. Families build small altars, create powerful images. It is a time when loved ones who have passed on are prayed for, remembered and blessed.

Over the years, I’ve experienced several memorable Day of the Dead events in San Diego.

Here are three Day of the Dead blog posts from past years. Click the links to enjoy a variety of colorful photographs…

Love and memory: Old Town’s Dia de los Muertos.

Alive in memory: one Dia de los Muertos altar.

Day of the Dead celebration at the Old Globe.

Day of the Dead will be celebrated again this year in Old Town. If you’d like to experience this amazing event, please refer to the following flyer:

eFlyer2

Powerful mural inside Centro Cultural de la Raza.

Tezcatlipoca, jaguar, god of night, war and destruction, dominates the dark, violent left section of the large mural inside Centro Cultural de la Raza.
Tezcatlipoca, jaguar, god of night, war and destruction, dominates the dark, violent left section of the large mural inside Centro Cultural de la Raza.

Step inside Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park and you’ll come face to face with a large and very powerful mural. It was created by Guillermo “Yermo” Aranda, completed in 1984 after 13 years of inspired work.

The mural, titled La Dualidad, tells the grand story of the universe, humanity, and America’s indigenous peoples. Elements from Mesoamerican literature are included in the story, including diverse symbols from Aztec, Mayan and Native American cultures.

It’s a story primarily about darkness and light. Two ancient gods are juxtaposed: Tezcatlipoca, god of darkness, against Quetzalcoatl, god of light. War is contrasted with peace. Despair is contrasted with hope. Fear is contrasted with confidence.

Should you visit Centro Cultural de la Raza to admire La Dualidad, be sure to open up the nearby binder. It details the meaning of each ancient symbol inside the mural. They combine to form a timeless wisdom that will touch your mind and heart.

The Tree of Life stands at the center of the powerful symbolic mural La Dualidad--The Duality, 1970-1984, by artist Guillermo "Yermo" Aranda.
The Tree of Life stands at the center of the powerful symbolic mural La Dualidad–The Duality, 1970-1984, by artist Guillermo “Yermo” Aranda.
Quetzalcoatl, feathered serpent, wise creator of humankind, moves through the mural and finally faces the viewer from the center of a pyramid, amid symbols of life and light.
Quetzalcoatl, feathered serpent, wise creator of humankind, moves through the mural and finally faces the viewer from the center of a pyramid, amid symbols of life and light.

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!

Dancing with joy at a big Greek Festival!

Early this afternoon I headed to St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church on Park Boulevard to enjoy their annual Greek Festival. Wow!

Tables and tents in the parking lot behind the church were overflowing with yummy Greek food, laughter, smiles and good cheer. Under the big tent the music, song and dancing was nonstop. Everyone clapped to lively traditional Greek music as people spontaneously jumped up and joined hands to dance. The spirit of “Opa!” was alive!

Kids in colorful Greek costume also danced. I believe the group I watched were called the Delphinian Dancers. They were showered with money during the performance, flowing from the large audience’s sheer joy and gratitude.

The festival continues through the weekend. If you like good times, you must definitely go!

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!

An architectural masterpiece in San Diego.

An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.
An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist building, designed by renowned architect Irving Gill and completed in 1910, is considered by many to be a masterpiece. I often pause a minute or two to admire its simple, rhythmic beauty when I walk near Second Avenue and Laurel Street in Bankers Hill.

During the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event a couple weekends ago, I ventured inside the church for the very first time.

I was interested to learn that when it was completed over a century ago, the mayor of San Diego considered the building such an amazing architectural accomplishment that he showed it to visiting dignitaries. I also learned that the church underwent a “modern” remodel in the 1950’s, which removed archways, windows and the beautiful glass dome. Thankfully the building was restored to its original appearance in 1998.

To my fascinated eyes, the arches, windows and tower are elegant, like notes of music. The white stucco enhances every perfect line and curve, as if a cloud were carved precisely with the architect’s pencil.

I took some photos! Read the captions for additional information.

Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation OPEN HOUSE.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space. I’m reminded of a jewel’s bright facets.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
A large poster containing photographs of the building's 1950's appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
A large poster containing photographs of the building’s 1950’s appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
The poster's legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
The poster’s legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950's. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950’s. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
An architectural marvel in San Diego's Bankers Hill neighborhood.
An architectural marvel in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.

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!