Star Wars lightsaber combat at Maker Faire!

This member of the San Diego Sabers has personally made many lightsabers. Some examples lie on the group's table during Maker Faire in Balboa Park.
This member of the San Diego Sabers has personally made many lightsabers. Some examples lie on the group’s table during Maker Faire in Balboa Park.

The last couple of years at Maker Faire San Diego I’ve watched a group of Star Wars enthusiasts entertain audiences with lightsaber duels. They have engaged in their elaborate play on the main stage, swinging their illuminated lightsabers in mock combat, to rousing music from the Star Wars movies.

This year, as I walked around Maker Faire, I happened upon this group’s cool lightsaber exhibit. These local Star Wars fans call themselves the San Diego Sabers. They are one of many similar groups all around the world that make their own lightsabers and engage in mock combat.

I asked all sort of questions and learned more than I expected. Most of the extremely elaborate lightsabers used by the members produce colored light, illuminating a long clear tube that can be attached, thereby appearing much like the Jedi and Sith weapons made famous in the movies. Most of the mock weapons also generate that distinctive lightsaber sound. I learned that it’s also possible to order a variety of lightsabers from several online vendors.

Regional competitions are often held between groups, and the method of scoring is similar to that used in fencing. The sport is lightning fast, highly athletic and incorporates various styles of martial arts. The San Diego Sabers provide demos free to the public, teach all ages including kids (often using foam lightsabers for safety), and encourage acceptance, respect, and a positive attitude.

And it’s obvious they have a lot of fun!

Many DIY lightsabers are surprisingly elaborate, generating light and sound, while appearing as authentic as any movie prop.
Many DIY lightsabers are surprisingly elaborate, generating light and sound, while appearing as authentic as any movie prop.
The San Diego Sabers provides full contact lightsaber training based on fencing, HEMA, Kendo and Wu-shu. Kids are welcome and it's free!
The San Diego Sabers provides full contact lightsaber training based on fencing, HEMA, Kendo and Wu-shu. Kids are welcome and it’s free!
Someone picks up one of the cool lightsabers on display.
Someone picks up one of the cool lightsabers on display.
Members of the San Diego Sabers demonstrate mock combat using foam attachments. Together they've got enough lightsabers to take on General Grievous!
Members of the San Diego Sabers demonstrate mock combat using foam attachments. Together they’ve got enough lightsabers to take on General Grievous!
A kid checks out one of the cool lightsabers. As you might have noticed, I took these photos on two different days during Maker Faire San Diego.
A kid checks out one of the cool lightsabers. As you might have noticed, I took these photos on two different days during Maker Faire San Diego.
Kids have a lot of fun with the foam lightsabers.
Kids have a lot of fun with the foam lightsabers.
Members of the San Diego Sabers arrive at the Maker Faire main stage in the Plaza de Panama. A combat exhibition is about to begin.
Members of the San Diego Sabers arrive at the Maker Faire main stage in the Plaza de Panama. A combat exhibition is about to begin.
As Star Wars music plays, two members of the San Diego Sabers simulate an epic battle between the Jedi and Sith.
As Star Wars music plays, two members of the San Diego Sabers simulate an epic battle between the Jedi and Sith.

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!

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Cool art at the Washington Street Skate Park!

Look at these photos! You’ll be surprised by some of the super cool art that greets local skateboarders at the Washington Street Skate Park!

I’ve always known there was some sort of outdoor art near this public skateboard park–many times I’ve glimpsed it while passing by on the trolley. So this morning I finally decided to check it out.

And I was blown away!

In addition to some simple metal rebar art along the enclosing fence, there’s a bunch of awesome mosaic tile artwork near the skatepark’s east entrance and on a dark, seldom seen wall along unused railroad tracks under Interstate 5. The above photo with the large word RESPECT was taken as I stood on the other side of the tracks. The additional photos you see were taken from a closer range.

There’s even more cool art inside the Washington Street Skatepark (which is also known as WSVT) and my camera captured one example of it. But unfortunately the park was closed this morning, so I couldn’t explore further.

In case you want to see this surprising art for yourself, the Washington Street Skate Park is located under Interstate 5 between historic Mission Brewery Plaza and Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Look for the intersection of West Washington Street and Pacific Highway, northeast of Lindbergh Field.

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!

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.

Photos from the Labor Day Stickball Tournament.

Batter gets ready to swing during the Labor Day Stickball Tournament in San Diego. Sixteen teams, including five from the East Coast, played over two days.
A batter gets ready to swing during the Labor Day Stickball Tournament in San Diego. Sixteen teams, including five from the East Coast, played over two days.

I watched some of the action today at the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. This annual San Diego tradition–which has been going on for 19 years now–includes West and East Coast stickball teams competing for glory. Even a slight drizzle couldn’t stop the intense street action!

I took some photos while enjoying a few of the games. A good crowd lined the sidewalks to watch play on three different street blocks in Little Italy. Stickball in San Diego seems to be growing in popularity–at least it appears that way to me!

Every year the event seems to grow. Many were lining the sidewalk watching a very exciting stickball game.
Every year the event seems to grow. Many people were lining the sidewalks watching action-packed stickball games. The dog barked excitedly with every great play.
Banner for the Nineteenth Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy, sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union.
Banner for the Nineteenth Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy, sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union.
Cars head down the nearby street as a game is in progress. It rained a little bit today, as you can see.
Cars head down the nearby street as a game is in progress. It rained a little bit today, as you can see.
Running for home in front of the San Diego Firehouse Museum during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament.
Running for home in front of the San Diego Firehouse Museum during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament.
Playing hard, with a smile. Good times, good people.
Playing hard with a smile. Good times, good people.
A big grid of teams this year for the stickball tournament. Just from personal observation, the event seems to grow every Labor Day weekend.
A big grid of 16 teams this year for the stickball tournament. Just from personal observation, the event seems to grow every Labor Day weekend.
A player stretches, a team huddles.
A player stretches as a team huddles. The play on hard asphalt is blazing fast and fierce.
Getting ready to be a stickball hero!
Getting ready to be a stickball hero!

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!

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Team of Santas urges kids to eat healthy food!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

People playing Over The Line on Fiesta Island today had to be blinking their eyes. They didn’t just see Santa Claus striding across the sand–they saw a whole team of jolly Santas!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity is competing this year in the OMBAC World Championship Over The Line Tournament in San Diego! And they’re spreading the important message that kids should eat healthy, nutritious food!

The unique team of Santas is organized by “Sustainable Santa” Richard Eckfield, and its members were observed this morning parading around the island handing out carrots and talking about the dangers of processed, sugary junk food and the rise of childhood obesity. Supported by several sponsors and the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, their mission is simply to promote healthy eating habits for children. “Healthy, Happy and Fit for Life!”

Members of Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity can also be seen from time to time at farmers markets across San Diego County. They encourage children to eat real, honest-to-goodness wholesome food.

Will they win the OTL Camummy Division this year? I don’t know. I do know these Santas have a winning message!

You might like to follow the Santa & Mrs Claus for Healthy Children Facebook page!

Unlike most presents unwrapped at Christmas, good health is a gift that will last a long, merry, magical lifetime!

Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy Bill Swank.
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Image courtesy Bill Swank.)
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

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Balboa Park artist paints life size Breeders’ Cup horse!

Artist in Balboa Park's Spanish Village tells visitors about her very unique work of art.
Artist in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village tells visitors about her very unique work of art.

I discovered something very cool during my walk through Balboa Park this evening. Bonnie Chance, an artist in Spanish Village Art Center, was applying paint to a life size fiberglass racehorse!

This artfully painted horse will be displayed prominently in San Diego with various others during the upcoming Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar. The project is called Art of the Horse. The painted and decorated horses will be part of a dinner and auction prior to the Breeders’ Cup. Money raised will assist various local charities.

I believe the artist said her creation’s name is Biscuit.

Spanish Village Art Center is hosting two life size race horses being painted for the 2017 Breeders Cup at Del Mar.
Spanish Village Art Center is hosting two life size race horses being painted for the 2017 Breeders Cup at Del Mar.
This impressive, lifelike horse sculpture is painted with images of underwater ocean life.
This impressive, lifelike horse sculpture is painted with images of underwater ocean life.
A large seahorse on a horse named Sea Biscuit. The famous Sea Biscuit ran a legendary race at Del Mar in 1938.
A large seahorse on a horse named Biscuit. The legendary Sea Biscuit won a famous race at Del Mar in 1938.

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!

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Italian American baseball players on India Street.

Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli

Dozens of Major League Baseball players are hanging out on Little Italy’s India Street! I saw them yesterday! I took their pictures!

One great thing about Little Italy is there are always lots of colorful street banners.  They celebrate the neighborhood’s Italian culture and rich history. As baseball season gets underway, a bunch of banners have been hung along India Street that feature Italian American baseball players, past and present.

Joe Garagiola
Joe Garagiola
Tony Conigliaro
Tony Conigliaro
Bart Giamatti
Bart Giamatti
Phil Rizutto
Phil Rizutto
Tommy Lasorda
Tommy Lasorda
Joe Torre
Joe Torre
Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo
Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio
San Diego Little Italy's neighborhood boys who played baseball, circa 1938.
San Diego Little Italy’s neighborhood boys who played baseball, circa 1938.
Jason Grilli
Jason Grilli
Sal Maglie
Sal Maglie
Christopher Denorfia
Christopher Denorfia
Frank Torre
Frank Torre
Christopher Colabello
Christopher Colabello
John Montefusco
John Montefusco
Alessandro Liddi
Alessandro Liddi
Joey Votto
Joey Votto
Nick Punto
Nick Punto
Frank Crosetti
Frank Crosetti
Dave Giusti
Dave Giusti
Gus Mancuso
Gus Mancuso
Frank Viola
Frank Viola
Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza
Dom DiMaggio
Dom DiMaggio
Paul (Li Mandri) Lattman
Paul (Li Mandri) Lattman
Barry Zito
Barry Zito
Jason Giambi
Jason Giambi
Devin Mescoraco
Devin Mescoraco

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!