Musicians rock at Starlight Bowl pop-up!

Great musicians gathered this afternoon and rocked Balboa Park’s Pan American Plaza during a pop-up performance in front of the Starlight Bowl!

I happened to walk past as the musicians were getting ready, and I stuck around to hear several songs. And I’m glad I did! Their absolutely rocking rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic Proud Mary is still echoing in my head!

This cool pop-up event was not only terrific, but it also helped to raise awareness about Save Starlight‘s efforts to completely renovate and revitalize Balboa Park’s historic Starlight Bowl amphitheater.

In the past I’ve blogged about my own experiences at the Starlight Bowl as a youth, and more recently about the plans to bring the amphitheater, built for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park, back to life. You can revisit that old blog post here.

Today I learned that a “Beyond Starlight” concession will be opening at one end of the old box office this summer, offering Community, Coffee, Treats and Beats. Perfect for the nearby tables that now fill the Pan American Plaza, which was completed a few months ago!

I also learned that the spacious outdoor amphitheater that seats over 4,000 will be available to the public for a whole variety of potential events. According to this page: “Once we are open for operation it will be available, and affordable for everyone. Starlight will be open to the entire San Diego performance and event community to host their productions.”

So in a small way, today’s pop-up at the Starlight Bowl’s entrance is a tiny taste of the good times to come!

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!

New life shines at the Starlight Bowl!

Today I got a quick glimpse of the progress that has been made in renovating Balboa Park’s historic, long-unused Starlight Bowl!

The non-profit organization Save Starlight has been getting the 4,000 seat outdoor amphitheater ready for a brand new chapter in its life.

Not only is there new paint inside and outside, but the stage, electrical systems and other critical parts of the amphitheater are being restored and improved!

I see there are plans to open an outdoor café by the entrance to the Starlight Bowl this spring!

Check out the Save Starlight web page here. They are always looking for volunteers to help in this effort.

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!

Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park unveils new plan!

A performance in the Ford Bowl (now the Starlight Bowl) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. No known copyright restrictions image from Flickr.
A performance in the Ford Bowl (now the Starlight Bowl) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.

I just learned that the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park has announced big plans for their future!

The long-hoped-for renovation of Starlight is now moving ahead! You can see the phased plan, including several renderings, by visiting their website page concerning the project here.

The visionary plan includes multiple stages, enhanced seating, a concession stand with healthier food offerings, and a digital media center that will be used by students across the county. As they explain: “Our goal is to empower students with an interest in the creative arts. Through seminars and a hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology, students gain the tools they need to pursue a future utilizing multimedia arts, and have the opportunity to connect with Balboa Park.”

I personally have very fond memories of the Starlight Bowl, which I’ve mentioned in the past. I remember that as a young man my family and I watched performances under the San Diego stars of several plays, including Kiss Me, Kate and The Pirates of Penzance. But that was decades ago, long before the San Diego Civic Light Opera went belly up in 2011.

For many years this large historic amphitheater in the Palisades area of Balboa Park has gone unused. Occasionally groups of volunteers have assembled to pull weeds between rows of seats.

Not only is the entire South Palisades area presently receiving a major upgrade (a new pedestrian plaza, the coming Comic-Con Museum and a beautified Automotive Museum with fantastic murals), but it appears that the Starlight Bowl is now set to enjoy a very bright and vibrant future!

Check out their amazing plans and perhaps become involved here!

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!

San Diego Fringe Festival in Balboa Park!

Look what I discovered today!

The San Diego International Fringe Festival has moved this year from its old downtown location inside the Spreckels Theater Building to Balboa Park. As I walked past the Starlight Bowl this afternoon, I was surprised to stumble upon Fringe City, the festival’s box office and cool outdoor public lounge!

If you’re into weird, experimental, absolutely unique alternative entertainment, including live, uncensored comedy, dance, satire and even circus acts, head to Balboa Park’s Palisades area to check out the Fringe Festival. Performance venues in Balboa Park include the nearby Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, the Centro Cultural de la Raza and the WorldBeat Cultural Center. Come on out and support visionary artists!

Read the poster and the signs to learn a bit more. (Click the photos and they will enlarge.) Better yet, go to the event website here!

The San Diego International Fringe Festival continues through June 16, 2019.

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!

Getting the Starlight Bowl ready for action!

Guys work on an interactive kiosk that will be at the entrance to the renovated Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park!
Guys work on an interactive kiosk that will be at the entrance to the renovated Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park!

I was pleasantly surprised during my walk through Balboa Park today to see progress is being made in renovating the Starlight Bowl!

A couple of super cool guys from Save Starlight were installing an interactive kiosk at the outdoor amphitheater’s entrance. I learned that some events for the outdoor venue are already planned for early this year! How awesome is that?

If you are like me, you might have watched musicals performed in the Starlight Bowl under twinkling stars, before the San Diego Civic Light Opera went bankrupt in 2011. My memories from years ago are still vivid in my mind’s eye. I remember laughing as a young man at the humor of Kiss Me, Kate and The Pirates of Penzance.

I’ve blogged about the effort to save the Starlight Bowl on several occasions, and took a couple of photographs after a new paint job and clean up early last year. I posted those photos on my Beautiful Balboa Park blog here.

If you want to learn more about the Starlight Bowl’s history, challenges, rehabilitation and eventual reopening, visit this website. You can make a donation to help with the effort, or perhaps volunteer!

A performance in the Ford Bowl (now the Starlight Bowl) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. No known copyright restrictions image from Flickr.
A performance in the Ford Bowl–now the Starlight Bowl–during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. (This no known copyright restrictions image is from Flickr.)

Save Starlight is making great progress bringing the famous and beloved Starlight Bowl back to life!
Save Starlight is making great progress bringing the famous and beloved Starlight Bowl back to life!

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One voice in support of saving the Starlight Bowl.

You can help save Balboa Park's beloved Starlight Bowl!
You can help save Balboa Park’s beloved Starlight Bowl!

I’m no expert on this matter. Take whatever I say with a grain of salt. I’m just an ordinary guy who has lived in San Diego for a good chunk of my life.

I would like to raise my voice in support of saving the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park. I’m not affiliated with Save Starlight. They have no clue who I am. But I’m attached to their cause. A chain of fond memories is my bond.

Years ago I enjoyed watching a variety of theatrical productions with my family in this beloved outdoor amphitheater. Some of those productions I experienced as a child and young adult, and they made a lasting impression. They helped me to develop my particular love for the written (and spoken) word, and for the great outdoors. My small world expanded as I sat beneath a universe of twinkling stars and absorbed great plays–those undying expressions of human longing, emotion and imagination. And it was simply exciting–like going to an outdoor concert!

I’m sure thousands–if not millions–of people have similar memories of the Starlight Bowl: memories of fine drama and pleasure under those twinkling stars, of laughs, tears and smiles, out in the fresh San Diego air, a short walk from the many other wonderful institutions in Balboa Park.

The Starlight Bowl has languished far too long. What a shame. When I walk past it during my strolls around Balboa Park, I can’t help but envision it once again filled with humanity, playing a unique role in our ever-growing city. Save Starlight is working to bring the large, functional amphitheater back to life. According to an email I received, they are now working with the city, and they intend to fill the Starlight Bowl with concerts, musicals, dance recitals, circus acts, magic shows, multicultural festivals, graduations, and much more. A few more ideas have also popped into my head: corporate events, lectures, a meeting place for large community organizations . . .

Many of my blog’s followers either live in or have a personal attachment to San Diego. Would you like to help with this effort? You know, social media sites like Facebook can have a surprisingly big impact if people post and share information and opinions. So why not make your support known? Or perhaps just tell your friends about what’s going on.

Save Starlight is making a presentation to the City of San Diego within a week, and a handwritten letter of support would be extremely powerful. Ideas for a letter might include your personal connection with Starlight, practical reasons why you would like to see the Starlight Bowl reopened, or even how you would like to become involved. Perhaps you’d like to volunteer, donate, use the venue for staging an event, have your product carried in the concessions, etc. If you plan to write, do it soon!

Letters should be sent to:

Stephen Stopper, President
Save Starlight, Inc.
9590 Chesapeake Drive
San Diego, CA 92123

The Starlight Bowl might once again be filled with humanity and magic. Your voice is important.
After languishing for many years, the Starlight Bowl might once again be filled with humanity and life. You can help make it happen.  Your voice is important.

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

Starlight Bowl sign: A season that never came.

Starlight Bowl sign and the season that never came.
Starlight Bowl sign and the season that never came.

On the south side of Balboa Park, at the edge of a canyon next to the San Diego Air and Space Museum, you’ll find this rusting sign.  It remains hopeful above the shuttered ticket windows of the Starlight Bowl, once home to the San Diego Civic Light Opera.  The sign announces a 65th season that never came.

A couple years ago the San Diego Civic Light Opera went bankrupt.  Which is a shame.  For a long happy time during the warm summer months the outdoor theatre featured musicals and other popular productions.  I remember watching the Pirates of Penzance and the Taming of the Shrew here when I was very young.  The coolest thing I remember was how the actors would all freeze and shows would be suspended for several seconds when noisy, low-flying airplanes approaching Lindbergh field passed directly overhead.

Display glass near entrance which used to show upcoming productions is vacant.
Display glass near entrance which used to show upcoming productions is vacant.

The outdoor Starlight Bowl has an audience of weeds.
The outdoor Starlight Bowl has an audience of weeds.

I walked around to one side for a view of the beloved Starlight Bowl and held my camera above a chain link fence for the above photo.  The outdoor stage now has an audience of weeds.

Side view of the Starlight Bowl, which has been sadly abandoned for years now.
Side view of the Starlight Bowl, which has been sadly abandoned for years now.