Today is Christmas.
During my walk along the Embarcadero, I found a smile and a rainbow.
I headed into Balboa Park today around noon to get a taste of 2019 December Nights.
It was overcast and drizzly at the start of San Diego’s huge holiday event, but when I left in mid-afternoon the weather had slightly improved.
This evening as I type these words it’s already dark. Bright, colorful lights will have turned on throughout Balboa Park, and the crowds will be massive and growing. Our city’s annual holiday festival is one of the biggest in the United States.
During my early walk many vendors were still setting up and the entertainment was just beginning on several stages. Santa hats and Christmas trees and yummy treats and smiles were already abundant. My camera turned right and left as I took some photos. Please excuse me for not captioning the images this year. I just wanted to share a smidgen of the magic.
(I did go into the Comic-Con Museum when it opened in the early afternoon, and if my indoor photos came out okay, I should be blogging some more very cool stuff shortly!)
Happy Holidays to all!
This evening there was a special concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. Former Civic Organist Jared Jacobsen was celebrated.
Jared Jacobsen was the fifth official San Diego Civic Organist, serving from 1978 to 1985. In more recent years, I was fortunate to hear him extract magic from the great Spreckels Organ on those memorable Sundays when he was a substitute organist.
This summer he tragically passed away.
Thinking back, I recall that whenever I attended one of his concerts, his easy smile, wit, and his sparkling music always made me feel joy.
The concert this evening, performed by Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton and current Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, featured the exact same selections that were performed during Jared Jacobsen’s final concert on the Spreckels Organ, on January 1, 2019.
During the concert many words were spoken of Jared Jacobsen’s character, and of how he touched those around him. There were heartfelt tributes by Jean Samuels, President of the Spreckels Organ Society; Lyle Blackington, Spreckels Organ Curator Emeritus; Jeremy Kaercher, of the First Lutheran Church of San Diego where Jared was Director of Music; and a very moving recollection of Jared’s humanity and generous spirit by Christine Micu, of The Bishop’s School in La Jolla where Jared taught.
I jotted down some words that were spoken.
“…he was gifted, charming, and he showed us all how to be a great human being…he was a superstar…his vitality was infectious…contagious zest for life…he was never a self-promoter…his verbal skills were equal to his musical skills…a living encyclopedia…elegant simplicity…the kindest and most caring person…to put it simply, he made people happy…his capacity to sparkle and spread light wherever he went…”
The popularity and success of the great Spreckels Organ today owes much to the tireless efforts and optimism of Jared Jacobsen.
More importantly, thousands of lives have been enriched by the spirit of one beloved man.
His music plays on.
Today I was wowed by amazing, dazzling, stupefying performances at the most magical circus in the world!
I know for a fact that I experienced the most powerful magic. I saw it, heard it, smelled it, got goosebumps. I felt magic in my sudden laughter and in my soaring heart. I saw magic in the joyful smiles of each circus performer.
The Zoppé Family Circus is performing this weekend at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. They are a circus whose history goes back to 1842, when, according to their website:
“. . . a young French street performer named Napoline Zoppé wandered into a plaza in Budapest, Hungary, looking for work. There, his eyes glanced upon a beautiful equestrian ballerina named Ermenegilda, who captured the hearts and minds of the crowd with her grace and showmanship. More important, this talented beauty captured Napoline’s heart.
Unfortunately, Napoline was a clown, and Ermenegilda’s father saw him as beneath her and disapproved of their relationship. The two ran away to Venice, Italy, and founded the circus that still bears their name . . .”
Today, the Zoppé Family Circus is filling our world with the time-tested magic of an Old World traditional circus. As Giovanni Zoppé explained when he welcomed the audience to the show, an authentic circus is all about family, tradition and struggle, and happiness and heartbreak.
I could see that the performers are also motivated by passion and a very deep love for what they do.
I spoke to Giovanni briefly, and he was such a nice person. I mean really nice.
After I got home, I did some reading and learned: “Giovanni Zoppé, the director of the circus and a sixth-generation performer, says the show aims higher than what passes for circuses these days. ‘We try to touch every emotion during the show,’ he says. ‘They’ll laugh, they’ll cry, and they’ll feel for the characters. It’s more of an event than a show.’
His performance as Nino the clown was hilarious, winning and utterly human. It was perfect. It was masterful.
The entire spectacle was fantastic.
Under the big top, in the spotlight at the center of the ring, the magic of the Zoppé Family Circus never ceased. There was magic in the acrobats, trapeze act, jugglers and tightwire act. There was magic in the trick horse riding and the lady who shot an arrow with perfect accuracy using her feet while doing a handstand. There was magic in the mustachioed fellow who flew through the air absurdly with a rope tied to his hair. He spun like a top, circled high above the ring, soared like a bird. There was magic in the glittering costumes, and the smell of sawdust and buttery popcorn, and the excited chatter and laughter of children. There was magic when Nino couldn’t find his hat, then couldn’t reach it when it dangled from the top of a broomstick that he held.
There was magic in every single moment.
My camera failed to take good photos in the subdued light under the big top. But I got some photos in front of the tent during a humorous pre-show performance.
In my photos you can see a little bit of that magic. And much of the humanity.
Balboa Park’s House of Ukraine had their lawn program today at the International Cottages.
I don’t know a whole lot about the culture and history of Ukraine, but I could see one thing very clearly. The Ukrainian love for food, uplifting song, bright colorful costumes and folk dance shows an enduring, passionate love of life.
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!
Some of the world’s greatest sand artists smiled for my camera late this afternoon! They’re now carving sand sculptures on Broadway Pier that will greet people as they arrive for the 2019 U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge.
During Labor Day weekend, these extraordinary artists will be working hard inside the Port Pavilion, where the public can watch them create spectacular pieces of fine art out of compacted sand!
If you’re in San Diego, it’s the big Labor Day weekend event you shouldn’t miss!
Here are some photos taken the following day…
Late yesterday I entered Balboa Park to enjoy a summer organ concert. I arrived well before the music began, so I took a leisurely walk along El Prado.
I was touched by the final rays of sunlight and a smile…