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!

A short story about painting angels.

Here we go again! I wrote another short story! What does it have to do with Cool San Diego Sights? Nothing. Silly me!

This very short work of fiction is about life. And painting angels. It has a happy ending! Click this link to read it on my writing blog Short Stories by Richard!

Thank you! I promise my next blog post will actually be about San Diego!

And by the way–I just posted four beautiful photos of barren trees in a heavenly sky on my other blog, A Small World Full of Beauty.  In case you’re curious, I took those photos this morning in Mission Valley.

Enough blogging for today!

Richard

Merry sights at the La Jolla Christmas Parade!

A merry sight along the La Jolla Christmas Parade route!
A merry sight along the La Jolla Christmas Parade route!

Today I enjoyed watching the annual La Jolla Christmas Parade! After walking a bit around La Jolla, I settled onto the curb and watched Christmas-themed floats, vintage cars and marching bands celebrate the merry season.

It’s a wonderful parade that I hadn’t seen before. Very glad I did this year!

Here are my best photos. Read the captions to follow along.

The Community Christmas Tree is hung with lights and ornaments at the La Jolla Recreation Center park.
The Community Christmas Tree is hung with lights and ornaments at the La Jolla Recreation Center park. A festival would be held here at the Christmas Parade’s conclusion.
This Community Christmas Tree is dedicated to the people of La Jolla this day, October 27, 1984, by the La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club.
This Community Christmas Tree is dedicated to the people of La Jolla this day, October 27, 1984, by the La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club.
As I walked down Girard Avenue, I spied some colorful Christmas cookies in a shop window!
As I walked before the parade down Girard Avenue, I spied some colorful Christmas cookies in a shop window!
In the parade staging area, various floats and groups were assembling before the scheduled early afternoon start.
In the parade staging area, various floats and groups were assembling before the scheduled early afternoon start.
A kid checks out the bright red OMBAC Fire Department engine, which is seen in many San Diego area parades.
A kid checks out the bright red OMBAC Fire Department engine, which is seen in many San Diego area parades.
Everyone is getting into position for the big Christmas parade in La Jolla!
The participants are getting ready for the big Christmas parade in La Jolla!
I saw these folks driving a vintage car to the staging area while I walked back to the parade viewing area.
I saw these folks driving a vintage car to the staging area while I walked back to the parade viewing area.
In 2016, the theme of the La Jolla Christmas Parade was Christmas in the Future. A special newspaper was printed up for the event by the La Jolla Village News.
In 2016, the theme of the La Jolla Christmas Parade is Christmas in the Future. A special newspaper was printed up for the event by the La Jolla Village News.
While people gathered along the parade route, these four guys in Santa hats came strolling along. They were singers!
While people gathered along the parade route, these four guys in Santa hats came strolling along. They were singers!
A musical quartet belonging to the Pacific Coast Harmony of La Jolla serenades people along the parade route! Great voices!
A musical quartet belonging to the Pacific Coast Harmony of La Jolla serenades people along the parade route! Great voices!
Pre-parade entertainment included some lion dancers coming down Prospect Street.
Pre-parade entertainment included some lion dancers coming down Prospect Street.
Residents revel in a time-honored tradition. 2016 is the 59th year of the La Jolla Annual Christmas Parade!
Residents revel in a time-honored tradition. 2016 is the 59th year of the La Jolla Annual Christmas Parade!
Just before the parade started, several vintage airplanes flew overhead. They were billed as the Antique Aircraft Flyover.
Just before the parade started, restored old biplanes flew overhead. They were billed as the Antique Aircraft Flyover.
The La Jolla Christmas Parade gets started! It is sponsored by The Dr. Seuss Foundation. The popular children's author lived in La Jolla.
The La Jolla Christmas Parade gets started! It is sponsored by The Dr. Seuss Foundation. The popular children’s author lived in La Jolla.
Biplanes continue to pass overhead as enthusiastic parade groups march and dance on by.
Cool aircraft continue to pass overhead as enthusiastic parade groups march and dance on by.
Here come the costumed Sons of the American Revolution parading down Prospect Street!
Here come the costumed Sons of the American Revolution parading down Prospect Street!
The Stella Maris Academy won Best Overall award. Their float featured an astronaut, a Christmas nativity scene and music lyrics. We believe the children are our future...
The Stella Maris Academy won Best Overall award. Their float featured an astronaut, a Christmas nativity scene and music lyrics. We believe the children are our future…
The La Jolla Presbyterian Church had Joseph, Mary, shepherds, an angel, and two live camels!
The La Jolla Presbyterian Church had Joseph, Mary, shepherds, an angel, and two live camels!
A young elf hands out Christmas candies to people watching La Jolla's joyful holiday parade.
A young elf hands out Christmas candies to people watching La Jolla’s joyful holiday parade.
A horse and carriage and folks dressed in Victorian garb for Christmas.
A horse and carriage and folks dressed in Victorian garb for Christmas.
Every parade must have marching bands!
Every parade must have marching bands!
Here comes a Girl Scout Troop and a friendly dog.
Here comes a Girl Scout Troop and a friendly dog.
I guess robots will celebrate Christmas in the future!
I guess metallic robots will celebrate Christmas in the future! Or wait. It just occurred to me those might be gift-wrapped boxes.
Here come the Sweetwater High School Red Devils!
Here come the Sweetwater High School Red Devils!
The Red Devils band marches by playing Christmas tunes!
The Red Devils band marches by playing Christmas tunes!
Just a fun float featuring a surfboard and Dr. Seuss characters. Like many, it was created by a local business. I've photographed the guy in the crazy Darth Vader outfit at other cool San Diego events!
Just a fun float featuring a surfboard and Dr. Seuss characters. Like many, it was created by a local business. I’ve photographed the guy in the crazy Darth Vader outfit at other cool San Diego events!
The La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club was spraying Christmas snow onto the onlookers with their stocking covered fire truck!
The La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club was spraying snow onto the onlookers with their Christmas stocking-covered fire truck!
There goes The San Diego Golden Retriever Meetup Group with lots of canine pals!
There goes The San Diego Golden Retriever Meetup Group with lots of canine pals!
Another cool sight at the annual La Jolla Christmas Parade.
Another cool sight at the annual La Jolla Christmas Parade.
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

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 from Christmas on the Prado!

Youthful members of All About Music San Diego prepare to play instrumental music at Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
Youthful members of All About Music San Diego prepare to play instrumental music at 2016 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.

Early this afternoon, before the threatened rain might begin, I headed up to Balboa Park to enjoy a bit of the 3rd Annual Christmas on the Prado. This celebration of Christmas is put on by the San Diego Children’s Coalition and the San Diego Community Christmas Committee; it shouldn’t be confused with December Nights, a more diverse holiday event in Balboa Park which used to be called “Christmas on the Prado”. December Nights will take place next week.

When I arrived, the event was just getting underway and many booths were still being erected. I caught a few early performances and some of the Christmas spirit. Here are a few photos!

The San Diego Community Christmas Center's nativity display at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is viewed by many during Christmas on the Prado.
The San Diego Community Christmas Center’s nativity display at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is viewed by families during Christmas on the Prado.
The nativity display shows scenes from the Bible concerning the birth of Christ.
The nativity display shows scenes from the Bible concerning the birth of Christ.
Shepherds are visited by an angel.
Shepherds are visited by an angel.
Children view a scene depicting the birth of Jesus in a humble manger.
Children view a scene depicting the birth of Jesus in a humble manger.
A shack magically transported from the North Pole provides treats at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during Christmas on the Prado.
A shack magically transported from the North Pole provides treats at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during Christmas on the Prado.
Christmas sweets include cookies!
Christmas sweets include cookies!
A brightly decorated tree and traditional Christmas music inside the House of Ireland at Balboa Park's International Cottages.
A brightly decorated tree and traditional Christmas music inside the House of Ireland at Balboa Park’s International Cottages.
A small but cheerful Christmas tree inside the House of England.
A small but cheerful Christmas tree inside the House of England.
Inside the House of Norway, children make tiny paper Christmas baskets to hang on a tree among ornaments.
Inside the House of Norway, children make tiny paper Christmas baskets to hang on a tree among ornaments.
Adding color to Christmas cookies inside the House of Norway.
Adding color to Christmas cookies inside the House of Norway.
A youth ballet company practices before they take the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
A youth ballet company practices before they take the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
A children's group sings joyful carols and other merry songs during Christmas on the Prado.
A children’s group sings joyful carols and other merry songs during Christmas on the Prado.
Getting a Christmas tree ready where Santa will sit in the evening, after nightfall.
Getting a Christmas tree ready where Santa will sit in the evening, after nightfall.

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!

Gratitude expressed by random people in a park.

What are you grateful for? Random people write their thoughts. They are grateful for life, family, school, warm socks, waking up to sunrises, and people who smile for no reason.
What are you grateful for? Random people in Balboa Park write their thoughts. They are grateful for life, family, school, warm socks, waking up to sunrises, and people who smile for no reason.

I stumbled upon a heartwarming sight in Balboa Park–just a few days before Thanksgiving.

A couple named Gratitude Gal and Gratitude Guy were greeting people who were walking down El Prado. The smiling pair carried a dry-erase board. People were invited to write down a few things in life for which they were grateful. Many of those random people did.

Thanksgiving is three days away. But it seems to me that every single day is an appropriate time to give thanks.  Happiness is a choice.

A random person walking along happily writes down a few reasons why they are thankful.
A random person walking along happily writes down a few reasons why they are thankful.
Gratitude Gal and Gratitude Guy collect messages of thanksgiving on a dry erase board in Balboa Park.
Gratitude Gal and Gratitude Guy collect messages of thanksgiving on a dry erase board in Balboa Park.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego.

Fascinating exhibits inside the Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Fascinating exhibits inside the Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Many visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park might think the Casa de Aguirre is just a shop brimming with colorful crafts and wares. But a closer look reveals that a small museum is located inside.

Here are some photos which provide a glimpse of what you’ll discover should you step into the museum. Read the captions, and you’ll learn how Casa de Aguirre is one of the most important sites in Old Town, and how its occupants shaped San Diego’s early history.

Casa de Aguirre in Old Town was built around 1853. The adobe mansion was one of the first houses in San Diego, owned by Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, a prosperous merchant and rancher.
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town was originally built around 1853. The adobe mansion was one of the first houses in San Diego, owned by Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, a prosperous merchant and rancher. The present building is a reproduction.
Bronze bust of Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, near entrance to Casa de Aguirre. Born in Spain, he owned several ships and warehouses and imported goods from Peru and China to trade for cowhides and tallow.
Bronze bust of Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, near entrance to Casa de Aguirre. Born in Spain, he owned several ships and warehouses and imported goods from Peru and China to trade for cowhides and tallow.
Don Jose Antonio Aguirre was known for his charity and funded many projects in early San Diego. His wife and many children are considered to be one of the city's founding families.
Don Jose Antonio Aguirre was known for his charity and funded many projects in early San Diego. He, his wife and children are considered to be one of our city’s founding families.
Bust of Father Antonio Ubach, Last of the Padres, 1835-1907. Antonio Dominic Ubach ran St. Anthony's Indian School on this site from 1886 to 1891.
Bust of Father Antonio Ubach, Last of the Padres, 1835-1907. Antonio Dominic Ubach ran St. Anthony’s Indian School on this site from 1886 to 1891.
Plaque describes how Father Ubach advocated for California's Native Americans and lobbied government to protect the Indians and their lands. He was loved by many. His last words were: "Have charity."
Plaque describes how Father Ubach advocated for California’s Native Americans and lobbied government to protect the Indians and their lands. He was loved by many. His last words were: “Have charity.”
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town San Diego today contains a shop visited by many tourists and a small museum in back.
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town San Diego today contains a shop visited by many tourists and a small museum in back.
One side of El Museo Casa de Aguirre. Excavated artifacts are on display, recalling what life was like here in the mid to late 19th century.
One side of El Museo Casa de Aguirre. Excavated artifacts are on display, recalling what life was like here in the mid to late 19th century.
Visitor to the small museum watches a video which includes information about archaeological discoveries, the history of the casa and the lives of those who were sheltered here.
Visitor to the small museum watches a video which includes information about archaeological discoveries, the history of the casa and the lives of those who were sheltered here.
St. Anthony's Indian School Artifacts Tell a Story. Many objects on display include porcelain cups, goblets, bottles, a saltshaker and beer mug.
St. Anthony’s Indian School Artifacts Tell a Story. Many objects on display include porcelain cups, goblets, bottles, a saltshaker and beer mug.
Sign describes additional historical finds, including buttons, toys, harmonicas, slate board and pencils, lice combs, toothbrush handles, shoe parts, medal rosary and religious medallions.
Sign describes additional historical finds, including buttons, toys, harmonicas, slate board and pencils, lice combs, toothbrush handles, shoe parts, medal rosary and religious medallions.
Marbles, doll parts and tiny children's tea sets, recovered from San Diego's past.
Marbles, doll parts and tiny children’s tea sets, recovered from San Diego’s past.
Dozens of buttons on display. They were fastened by many fingers, now long gone.
Dozens of buttons on display. They were fastened by living fingers, now long gone.
Two old pipes.
Two old pipes.
Numerous bottles and jars are exhibited in the Casa de Aguirre Museum. They were used for medicine, mustard, chemicals, perfume, whiskey, beer, sarsaparilla...
Numerous bottles and jars are exhibited in the Casa de Aguirre Museum. They were used for medicine, mustard, chemicals, perfume, whiskey, beer, sarsaparilla…
People interested in collecting antique bottles would be mesmerized by the large assortment on display.
People interested in collecting antique bottles would be mesmerized by the large assortment on display.
Don Antonio and Rosario Aguirre in Old Town History. The museum is located in what was once the bedroom and servants quarters in the Casa de Aguirre. The present-day adobe is a reproduction.
Don Antonio and Rosario Aguirre in Old Town History. The museum is located in what was once the bedroom and servants quarters in the Casa de Aguirre. The present-day adobe is a reproduction.
Don Antonio Aguirre, 1799-1860, was one of San Diego's most important figures back when our burgeoning Southern California city was just a very small town.
Don Antonio Aguirre, 1799-1860, was one of San Diego’s most important figures back when our burgeoning Southern California city was just a very, very small town.
A model of how the Casa de Aguirre appeared a century and a half ago.
A model of how the Casa de Aguirre appeared a century and a half ago.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! 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 fascinating photos for you to enjoy!

Alive in memory: one Dia de los Muertos altar.

A traditional Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights summons ancestors and close loved ones who have passed from this world.
A traditional Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights summons ancestors and loved ones who have passed from this world.

I went for a long walk this morning. My feet carried me through Sherman Heights, a neighborhood directly east of downtown San Diego. I was hoping to see some of the community Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altars. These outdoor altars, distributed about a few residential streets, were the focus of yesterday’s popular Sherman Heights Muertos Festival, which I missed.

Heading down 24th Street, I spotted one elaborate altar near the sidewalk and was struck by the rich, heartfelt symbolism.

Loved ones who’ve “passed to the other side” are remembered with reverence on Dia de los Muertos, and their spirits are enticed back among the living. Traditional items featured in the altars can include sugar skulls, samples of the deceased person’s favorite food, pan de muertos (bread with a small human figurine baked inside), seeds, flowers, portraits of the dead, candles, alcohol (to toast the arrival of spirits), and papel picado (decorative perforated paper which represents the fragile nature of life).

I don’t know whose spirits are being summoned by this particular altar. I can tell that precious memories are being kept alive among the living, and that those memories contain whole lifetimes of love.

Powerful symbols of life, love, hope and renewal on display in this colorful outdoor altar.
Powerful symbols of life, love, hope and renewal on display in this colorful outdoor altar.
In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous celebration of the dead. It is an important day in culturally rich San Diego.
In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous celebration of the dead. It is a beloved time in culturally rich San Diego.
A beautiful outdoor Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights. An ordinary family cherishes extraordinary memories.
A beautiful outdoor Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights. An ordinary family cherishes extraordinary memories.

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