Creating a plaque: Navy history in San Diego revealed!

Molten bronze is poured in the foundry of the USS Ajax. Historical photograph of the Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque being created. Photo credit: United States Navy.
Molten bronze is poured in the foundry of the USS Ajax. Historical photograph of the Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque being created. Photo credit: United States Navy.

A few days ago I received new information about an important bronze plaque, which was created in 1975 to commemorate the United States Navy’s 200 year anniversary. The historic Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque stands today on San Diego’s Embarcadero, on the Greatest Generation Walk next to the USS Midway Museum. Thousands of people breeze past it every day.

People pass the Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque, displayed on San Diego's Embarcadero, on the Greatest Generation Walk near the USS Midway Museum. Photo taken October 17, 2015.
People pass the Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque, displayed on the Greatest Generation Walk near the USS Midway Museum. Photo taken October 17, 2015.
Photo of Navy 200 year commemoration plaque courtesy the Port of San Diego.
Photo of Navy 200 year commemoration plaque courtesy the Port of San Diego.

When I first saw the old plaque, I could find absolutely nothing about it on the internet. So I originally posted this blog. As new information trickled in–sometimes out of the blue–I posted this and this.

I was recently contacted by one of the plaque’s creators. He has provided detailed information about its history, including three amazing photographs and nine scans of a typed News Release from 40 years ago. The text of the News Release does not appear online, so I carefully transcribed the words. That way a very important bit of San Diego and Navy history won’t be lost.

(I tried to transcribe exactly, including possible misspellings. I’m not certain about the spelling of some names in the photo captions.)

If you know more about this plaque and would like to add some information, please leave a comment below. If you’d like to contact me, but don’t want to have your comment published, then please tell me that and I’ll email you.

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 1.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 1.

NAVY COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE

by Pat Sutton

San Diego . . . . . The actual presentation of a plaque by the Navy to the people of San Diego on October 3, 1975 is the end of the story.

One might say the plaque story began October 13, 1775. On that day the Continental Congress authorized the fitting out of ships for the Continental Navy. This action constituted the first naval legislation and became the genesis of the U. S. Navy.

The skills and spirit which forged the Navy of 1775 also forged the commemorative plaque in 1975 . . . . .

In the spring of this year, representatives of various commands in the Eleventh Naval District met to discuss plans for celebrating the Navy’s 200th birthday. The group reviewed the heritage, the building of proud traditions, the horizons of the Naval Service. It was decided to hold a great celebration

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 2.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 2.

to honor the Navy, its members past and present, the nation and San Diego – so long a part of the life, the heritage and tradition of the Navy.

The plaque story developed in an uniquely traditional Navy way. The Navy’s microcosmic capabilities began to surface and swing into action.

Civilian Mrs. Jo Palm is the Visual Information Specialist for the Commander Naval Surface Force, Pacific. She also chaired the Navy Bicentennial exhibits committee. Jo conceived the idea that there should be some lasting remembrance of the occasion for the people of San Diego – perhaps a commemorative plaque would be appropriate.

Civilian Francisco (Cisco) Lopez is a designer with the General Atomic Company of San Diego. He is also a First Class Draftsman in the Navy Reserve. Tall, 28-years-old, Cisco is a 12-year Navyman, combining four years active duty with eight years in the Reserve. Last June he served his annual two weeks active duty in the Naval Surface Force Public Affairs graphics shop, reporting from his Reserve Unit with the Fleet Intelligence Center, Pacific.

“Jo told me her idea and we decided I should design something depicting 200 years of Navy history – along the lines of a plaque, but not like the usual plaque.”

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 3.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 3.

Cisco was raised in San Francisco and has lived in San Diego the past five years. He graduated from San Francisco State and hopes eventually to be a research historian or teacher.

“I have almost a passion for history. I’m taking a month off work in June ’76, I’ll be in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July. As an armchair military historian I really relished the opportunity to be a part of today’s history by designing a representation of our Navy over a span of 200 years”.

At the suggestion of her student husband, Mel, Jo Palm went aboard Mel’s former ship, USS Ajax (AR-6), with Cisco’s drawing and the question, “Can you make it a reality?”

For a fleet repair ship like Ajax, “can” is a reality because she is designed for heavy duty hull repair; to provide a full range of repair services to Navy units in remote areas.

On her way to see the Repair Officer, Lieutenant Commander Harley M. Oien, Jo Palm passed through the Patternmaker/Carpenter Shop, remarkably clean despite the several huge saws rasping, whining and spewing sawdust. She was escorted through the Heavy Machine and Shipfitter’s shops where expert Navy operators can literally rebuild a whole ship.

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 4.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 4.

Twelve-year Navy veteran, Chief Molder Marvin E. (Tex) Feasell of Baytown, TX, is in charge of the Ajax foundry. He recounts the meeting below decks in Mr. Oien’s office where he and a few key men, including Patternmaker First Class Ronald Gray, held a conference with Jo.

“We hashed, squabbled, explained our methods, discussed time frames, costs to the Bicentennial Birthday Fund, and most of all, the making of the pattern. That’s the critical area. That’s the make or break of the job”.

Tex Feazell learned his profession when he was sent to the Moulder “A” school right out of Boot Camp in 1963. He reported aboard Ajax in May 1974. He has a keen appreciation of the expertise of the Ajax crew, and a keen pride in its performance.

“We have one of the most hard charging crews in the fleet. The people are hard charging – hit it! Hit it! We wanted to show our skills. We wanted to make that plaque for the Navy and for San Diego. We didn’t know for over a week if we would get the job. It made us feel proud when we heard we were going to do it”.

And so the “make or break” responsibility of the Navy’s bicentennial birthday memento to San Diego was enthusiastically assumed by Patternmaker Ronald Gray, who applied his

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 5.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 5.

Navy-learned skills to transform from drawing to working pattern the impression of 200 years of the United States Navy.

Ron has not always served in the time honored rate of Patternmaker. He joined the Navy shortly after he graduated from high school in Olympia, WA, and served his first hitch as a Commissaryman. A friend, appreciative of his carving hobby, suggested Ron reenlist under the Navy’s SCORE (Selective Conversion) program and be schooled as a Patternmaker.

Now, after 7 1/2 years in the Navy, 2 1/2 aboard Ajax, this craftsman laid the historical design out, carved his first figures in bas relief, glued them on board, then build up the other details. The pattern for the 30″ x 24″, 150 pound metal plaque would end up basically wood and plaster, however, the rope detail was real rope!

The Spirit of ’75, the hallmark of the Navy, nowhere better manifested itself than aboard the USS Ajax as the work progressed.

Patternmaker Third Class Roger Richie of Denver, CO, was a millman in civilian life and when he joined the Navy he wanted to be a carpenter. But at the time, there was no billet open at the carpenter school.

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 6.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 6.

“Now I think I got lucky, because I was sent to Patternmaker’s School. There’s not too many of us in the Navy, or in the country, for that matter. So by what you might call a ‘freak accident’ I was here to help Ron on the plaque. There’s pride in this job”.

The Ajax Dental Department loaned Ron Gray tools for working on the intricate wax carvings, and a dental drill for final sanding. The ship’s Dental Officer, Commander Roger E. Bisson of Helena, MT, enjoys woodworking and asked to carve the plaque’s Navy aircraft with his precision instruments.

“We all want to contribute. Gray is so willing to share the glory with the team, even though he has done most of the work”, Bisson said.

Below the gleaming metal decks, at the very keel of Ajax on the concrete deck of the foundry, Molder First Class William McCoy of Coshocton, OH, and his men were ready. McCoy spent his first four years in the Navy as a destroyer torpedoman. Then for ten years he was a civilian molder. Unable to wash the salt from his veins, he returned to the Navy a year and a half ago.

McCoy described his work, “The molding art is fairly unchanged since the middle ages. We use primitive tools, primitive casting methods. A person with an understanding of the primitive makes an excellent molder”.

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 7.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 7.

Then he turned to his bicentennial commemorative plaque assignment, “We’re looking forward to this job. The foundrymen will tussle with 700 to 800 pounds of sand and probably 150 pounds of molten metal. That’s a big pour”.

In providing the material for that “big pour”, the Navyman’s natural penchant for building on a proud tradition swung into action again. Commander William D. Collins, Public Affairs Officer for the Commander Naval Air Force, Pacific Fleet, remembered the legendary aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). A World War II combatant, Bunker Hill, was nicknamed “Holiday Express” because from November 11, 1943 to May 11, 1945, when she sustained crippling bomb and Kamikaze hits, she had conducted ten major strikes on holidays. During this brief period she had run up a combat record of 430 enemy planes destroyed in the air; 230 on the ground; 146,803 tons of enemy shipping sent to the bottom and 20 enemy planes shot down by her antiaircraft batteries.

In 1947 Bunker Hill was decommissioned. In 1965, 22 years after her commissioning, the old warrior was fitted out as a research facility for the Naval Electronics Laboratory Center, San Diego. She became a San Diego landmark moored in the bay off North Island Naval Air Station as she served as a floating laboratory for seven years.

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 8.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 8.

“The Bunker Hill was stripped of her brass and bronze fittings prior to her scraping in late 1972”, Commander Collins reported at a Bicentennial Committee meeting, “this was molded into ingots. Some of the ingots still remain and are stored at the Naval Station in Honolulu. We would be honored to have Bunker Hill permanently a part of San Diego. The Pacific Naval Air Force will provide her brass and bronze for the plaque”.

And so it was done.

In August Jo Palm called Cisco Lopez with the news that the plaque was to become a reality. Cisco told Jo of an uniquely Navy coincidence. “For my 1975 active duty tour I was stationed on Ajax! I designed ducting for ventilation of a spray booth. Great crew! I never expected to work with them again”.

On September tenth, after the sand had been rammed around the pattern and the pattern removed, leaving its historic impression (the negative), the excitement of expectancy on the Ajax foundry deck rose even as the metal of old Bunker Hill rose toward the proper temperature to pour.

Participants, both active and anticipating, ranged from Jo Palm and Cisco Lopez; Navy combat cameramen and photographers; to the molders, firemen, and as from the beginning,

Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 9.
Navy Commemorative Plaque News Release. Navy Bicentennial, October 3-13, 1975. Page 9.

Patternmaker First Class Ron Gray, whose work would not end until his bicentennial plaque received its final buffing.

In the seething depths of Ajax the bronze flared at 1850 degrees Fahrenheit and was poured at 1900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Emerging from the plutonic foundry floor, Molder Third Class Forrest L. (Lee) Garland of Longview, TX, removed his zinc-deposit-coated face mask saying, “A molder’s job is to know hear; how hot to pour, how much to pour in a little hole. We did a job today. And it was good.”

Lieutenant Commander Oien observed, “The men generated the enthusiasm for the plaque. If they had not wanted to do it, I suppose it could have been forced. Instead, it was a labor of love”.

At the San Diego Bay embarcadero, on Broadway Pier, permanently ensconced in a handsome planter, the Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque is inscribed:

Dedicated to the People of San Diego

By the United States Navy

1775 – October 13 – 1975

Tex Feasell and Ron Gray with the first wood carving and the original drawing. Photo credit: United States Navy.
Tex Feazell and Ron Gray with the first wood carving and the original drawing. Photo credit: United States Navy.
Patternmaker Kevin O'Connor, Molder Jessie Lopez, Molder Lee Garland, Patternmaker Roger Richie, two unidentified Molders, Bill McCoy and Ron Gray. Photo credit: United States Navy.
Patternmaker Kevin O’Connor, Molder Jessie Lopez, Molder Lee Garland, Patternmaker Roger Richie, two unidentified Molders, Bill McCoy and Ron Gray. Photo credit: United States Navy.

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Team USA Olympics sand sculpture in San Diego!

Sand sculpture in front of U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge in San Diego shows Team USA and Olympians on the Road to Rio!
Sand sculpture welcoming visitors to the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge in San Diego shows Team USA and Olympians on the Road to Rio!

A sand sculpture that pays tribute to Team USA and the upcoming 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro is now standing at the foot of the B Street Pier in downtown San Diego. I thought you might enjoy seeing the finished artwork!

Several days ago I blogged about how the sculpture was being created by Dan Belcher from St. Louis, Missouri and Ilya Filimontsev from Moscow, Russia. They’re both world-class sand masters who will be competing in Labor Day weekend’s big international U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge. This fantastic sand art will welcome visitors to the annual event!

The beautiful result of friendship between American and Russian artists is on display in San Diego!

Banner on fence at B Street Pier near Cruise Ship Terminal promotes the 2015 U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Exposition in San Diego.
Banner on fence at B Street Pier near Cruise Ship Terminal promotes the 2015 U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Exposition in San Diego.
Team USA, American Olympic gymnasts and a United States flag decorates one side of a sand sculpture at the foot of the B Street Pier in San Diego!
Team USA, American Olympic athletes and a United States flag decorate one side of a sand sculpture at the foot of the B Street Pier in San Diego!

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Suffrage rally and parade celebrates 19th Amendment.

A smile, a Votes For Women sash, and a California Equal Suffrage Association banner.
A smile, a Votes For Women sash, American flags, and a California Equal Suffrage Association banner.

Early this evening a rally and parade celebrating the ratification of the 19th Amendment were held in Balboa Park. As the sun descended toward the horizon, a small crowd gathered in Sefton Plaza to hear a variety of interesting, often stirring speeches. The speakers portrayed notable women in American history who have worked to further the cause of women’s equal civil rights. Wearing period costumes, the historical personalities included Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Eleanor Roosevelt, plus important local San Diegans Dr. Charlotte Baker, our city’s first female practicing physician, and prominent philanthropist and journalist Ellen Browning Scripps. The event was sponsored by the Women’s Museum of California in Point Loma.

Here are a few photos!

Two women head for Sefton Plaza in Balboa Park, where a suffrage rally would celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
Two women head for Sefton Plaza in Balboa Park, where a suffrage rally would celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920. It guarantees all American women the right to vote.
The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920. It guarantees all American women the right to vote.
Historical sign proclaims a woman living here has registered to vote thereby assuming the responsibility of citizenship.
Historical sign proclaims a woman living here has registered to vote thereby assuming the responsibility of citizenship.
In period attire, the person being interviewed played the role of San Diego philanthropist and trailblazer Ellen Browning Scripps during the rally.
In period attire, the person being interviewed played the role of San Diego philanthropist and trailblazer Ellen Browning Scripps during the rally.
The woman with the microphone portrayed American suffragist and social activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who wrote many of Susan B. Anthony's speeches.
The woman with the microphone portrayed American suffragist and social activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who wrote many of Susan B. Anthony’s speeches.
Many wore historical sashes, hats and costumes to commemorate suffragettes and leaders who have fought for equal women's rights.
Many wore historical sashes, hats and costumes to commemorate suffragettes and leaders who have fought for equal women’s rights.
One participant reenacted Eleanor Roosevelt, speaking about her life and accomplishments. The statue is of Kate Sessions, one of the founders of Balboa Park.
One participant reenacted Eleanor Roosevelt, speaking about her life and accomplishments. The statue is of Kate Sessions, one of the founders of Balboa Park.
The suffrage parade begins toward the heart of Balboa Park, down El Prado and over the Cabrillo Bridge.
The suffrage parade begins.  Participants march toward the heart of Balboa Park, down El Prado and over the Cabrillo Bridge.

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Lots of photos from Coronado’s Fourth of July parade!

Color guard leads the way during the Coronado Independence Day parade on Orange Avenue.
Color guard leads the way during the Coronado Independence Day parade on Orange Avenue.

While this blog post contains a whole bunch of photos, they only represent a small fraction of today’s Independence Day parade in Coronado. This Fourth of July parade is one of the biggest and best in the nation. Coronado is about as apple pie as a town can get, as it’s home to two very important military bases: Naval Air Station North Island and the Naval Amphibious Base.

Before the parade began, I walked about checking out the sights, smells and sounds. Hopefully I captured a bit of the experience with these photographs…

Welcome to Coronado . . . A Star Spangled Summer!
Welcome to Coronado . . . A Star Spangled Summer!
I believe these runners raced earlier in the Crown City Classic that started and ended at Tidelands Park, a few blocks away.
I believe these runners raced earlier in the Crown City Classic that started and ended at Tidelands Park, a few blocks away.
Almost everyone I saw was wearing clothing or costumes befitting a Fourth of July celebration!
Almost everyone I saw was wearing clothing or costumes befitting a Fourth of July celebration!
Someone wrote on the sidewalk with chalk: Happy Fourth of July!
Someone wrote on the sidewalk with chalk: Happy Fourth of July!
Tent in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Orange Avenue was raising money selling parade-worthy treats.
Tent in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Orange Avenue was raising money selling parade-worthy treats.
The Lions Club had a stand at Spreckels Park near the center of patriotic Coronado.
The Lions Club had a stand at Spreckels Park near the center of patriotic Coronado.
People check out art on display in Spreckels Park.
People check out art on display in Spreckels Park.
What could be more American than tossing a baseball while waiting for the big parade to begin.
What could be more American than tossing a baseball while waiting for the big parade to begin?
A shop window had a dog with a red, white and blue bow!
A shop window had a dog with a red, white and blue bow!
Humans and canines were all decked out for the occasion!
Humans and canines were all decked out for the occasion!
And what could be more American than a hot dog. A hot dog draped by a flag!
And what could be more American than a hot dog? A hot dog draped by a flag!
The businesses along Orange Avenue had all sorts of Independence Day wares and decorations outside.
The businesses along Orange Avenue had all sorts of Independence Day wares and decorations outside.
There is no greater love than this--that a person would lay down his life for his friends.
There is no greater love than this: That a person would lay down his life for his friends.
Kids with flags follow a big wagon full of lawn chairs, as the parade is almost ready to start.
Kids with flags follow a big wagon full of lawn chairs, as the parade is almost ready to start.
Finishing touches are put on the poop circles. Should a horse poop in your chalk circle, you win a special prize!
Finishing touches are put on the poop circles. Should a horse poop in your chalk circle, you win a special prize!
Tens of thousands are ready now along the entire length of Coronado. I think I hear the parade coming.
Tens of thousands are ready now along the entire length of Coronado. I think I hear the distant parade approaching.
Actually, it's the pre-parade entertainment. These performers are swirling and dancing to the delight of the crowd!
Actually, it’s the pre-parade entertainment. These performers are swirling and dancing to the delight of the crowd!
A colorful costume gets onlookers in the mood for a big, fun parade.
A colorful costume gets onlookers in the mood for a big, fun parade.
These guys are the Emilio Wallace Panamanian Marching Band of California!
These guys are the Emilio Wallace Panamanian Marching Band of California!
The Escondido Mounted Posse carry flags.
The official parade has begun.  The Escondido Mounted Posse carries flags.
Red, white and blue flowery carts are pulled by miniature horses!
Red, white and blue flowery carts are pulled by miniature horses!
The Grand Marshall this year was Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The Grand Marshall this year was Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
And here comes the San Diego County tax collector, waving cheerfully to all!
And here comes the San Diego County tax collector, waving cheerfully to all!
Beautifully groomed long-tailed horses and a poodle strut their stuff down the parade route.
Beautifully groomed long-tailed horses and a poodle strut their stuff down the parade route.
A color guard precedes honored Pearl Harbor survivors.
A color guard precedes honored Pearl Harbor survivors.
A veteran who served during Pearl Harbor. He and other fellow heroes received the loudest applause all day.
A veteran who served during Pearl Harbor. He and other fellow heroes received the loudest applause all day.
A Pearl Harbor survivor waves to a crowd. Many were shouting Thank You.
A Pearl Harbor survivor waves to the crowd. Many were shouting “Thank You”.
Applause for the Pearl Harbor survivors as they pass on by for the Fourth of July.
Applause for the Pearl Harbor survivors as they pass on by for the Fourth of July.
Here comes the Marine Corps band!
Here comes the Marine Corps band!
An American military veteran rides his motorcycle down Orange Avenue.
An American military veteran rides his motorcycle down Orange Avenue.
Gold Star Mothers, with signs of loved ones killed in action. The people of Coronado understand that defending freedom can require sacrifice.
Gold Star Mothers, with signs of loved ones killed in action. The people of Coronado understand that defending freedom can require sacrifice.
Wounded Warriors are welcomed home.
Wounded Warriors are welcomed home.
Remembering our local fallen. Some gave all.
Remembering our local fallen. Some gave all.
San Diego Young Marines march. A future generation of heroes.
San Diego Young Marines march. A future generation of heroes.
An avenue of proud, billowing flags.
An avenue of proud, billowing flags.
Reenacting raising the flag at Iwo Jima, The United States Marine Corps War Memorial.
Reenacting raising the flag at Iwo Jima, The United States Marine Corps War Memorial.
San Diego heroes carry a large American flag.
San Diego heroes carry a large American flag.
Here come the Valley Center Rodeo Queens on horseback.
Here come the Valley Center Rodeo Queens on horseback.
Welcome Home Seth. Your country thanks you.
Welcome Home Seth. Your country thanks you.
Welcome Home Rodger. Our returning warrior.
Welcome Home Rodger. Our returning warrior.
Cool old cars from the Avenue of Heroes.
Cool old cars from the Avenue of Heroes.
Now that's an antique.
Now that’s an antique.
Of course, the big parade includes the Wells Fargo stagecoach.
Of course, the big parade includes the Wells Fargo stagecoach.
Even the Coronado Lawn Bowling Club was a part of the big Independence Day parade.
Even the Coronado Lawn Bowling Club was a part of the big Independence Day parade.
Meet the canine Vice Mayor of Coronado. I'm not sure which dog is the Mayor.
Meet the canine Vice Mayor of Coronado. I’m not sure which dog is the Mayor.
It's the Castle Park High School marching band.
It’s the Castle Park High School marching band.
Some medieval knights did battle on the parade route. Seems one has emerged the victor.
Some medieval knights did battle on the parade route. Seems one has emerged the victor.
Pink flamingos greet the crowd. I wonder if they wandered over here from the Marriott Coronado Resort's flamingo pond.
Pink flamingos greet the crowd. I wonder if they wandered over here from the Marriott Coronado Resort’s flamingo pond.
Coronado is one of the most patriotic places you'll find. Naval Air Station North Island and the Naval Amphibious Base where Seals train are located here.
Coronado is one of the most patriotic places you’ll find. Naval Air Station North Island and the Naval Amphibious Base where Seals train are located here.
An unrestored FJ-3 Fury from the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar was towed to Coronado for the parade!
An unrestored FJ-3 Fury from the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar was towed to Coronado for the parade!
Historic fighter jet heads down Orange Avenue as Fourth of July parade onlookers honor the troops.
Historic fighter jet heads down Orange Avenue as Fourth of July parade onlookers honor the troops.

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Cool Star Wars cosplay in Fourth of July parade!

Kids wave at Star Wars stormtrooper and tie fighter pilot at the Coronado Independence Day parade!
Kids wave at Star Wars stormtrooper and TIE fighter pilot at the Coronado Independence Day parade!

I spent the morning in Coronado. I’ve always wanted to see their huge Independence Day parade, reputed to be one of the very best in America. (And I believe it! I’ll be posting a bunch of pics later–I’ve got a lot of photos to go through!)

One of the biggest sensations of the parade was created when a bunch of San Diego Star Wars Society members passed down the length of Orange Avenue, engaging in elaborate cosplay. Talk about cool! It’s like Comic-Con started early!

San Diego Stars Wars Society members engage in elaborate cosplay for Coronado's Fourth of July parade!
San Diego Stars Wars Society members engaged in elaborate cosplay for Coronado’s Fourth of July parade!
Imperial stormtrooper rides a Segway, an advanced land vehicle from the early 21st century.
Imperial stormtrooper rides a Segway, an advanced land vehicle from the early 21st century.
A biker scout trooper clears a path for the San Diego Star Wars Society with a flag-festooned, red, white and blue patriotic motorcycle!
A biker scout trooper clears a path for the San Diego Star Wars Society with a flag-festooned, red, white and blue patriotic motorcycle!
The Dark Force seems to have a big following. But don't be alarmed. Some fearless Jedi Knights have arrived!
The Dark Force seems to have a big following. But don’t be alarmed. Some fearless Jedi Knights have arrived!
An army of white-armored clones marches down a very crowded Orange Avenue in Coronado. The parade featured a fantastic variety of cool sights.
An army of white-armored clones marches down a very crowded Orange Avenue in Coronado. The parade featured a fantastic variety of cool sights.
Kids have a load of fun as costumed Star Wars enthusiasts participate in the Coronado Independence Day parade.
Kids have a whole lot of fun as costumed Star Wars enthusiasts participate in the Coronado Independence Day parade.

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Getting ready for Fourth of July on the Embarcadero.

Flags are already out up and down San Diego's Embarcadero the day before the Fourth of July.
Flags are already out up and down San Diego’s Embarcadero the day before the Fourth of July.  This gentleman was taking a break near the fishing pier behind the convention center.

I noticed today that folks are already in the Fourth of July spirit. During my walk along the Embarcadero, I saw flags everywhere. Tomorrow the waterfront will be jammed with hundreds of thousands of San Diegans and tourists, especially during the Big Bay Boom fireworks show which takes place at 9 o’clock. I’ll be watching, too! Don’t expect any photos of fireworks, however, because my modest camera isn’t quite up to that task!

Should you happen to stroll through Seaport Village on Saturday, Alamo Flags will be handing out 1000 actual American flags for free! I was once honored to receive one, and they’re great! Giving away flags is a tradition carried on by the owner, Mike Ismail. Because of his personal experiences, he’s very grateful to live in the Land of the Free.

Port of San Diego's Big Bay Boom, an Independence Day Spectacular, will take place at 9 o'clock July 4. Several barges on the bay will launch synchronized fireworks.
Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Boom, an Independence Day Spectacular, will take place at 9 o’clock July 4. Several barges on the bay will launch synchronized fireworks.
American flag on a pedicab waiting for passengers by the USS Midway Museum.
American flag on a pedicab.  The driver is waiting for passengers on the Embarcadero, near the USS Midway Museum.
Flagship's Patriot speed boat is ready to take folks on a thrill ride! Get ready to be splashed!
Flagship’s Patriot speed boat is about to take folks on a thrill ride! Get ready to be splashed!
A street performer wears the Stars and Stripes. Looks like he's ready to go this Fourth of July weekend.
A street performer wears the Stars and Stripes. Looks like he’s ready to go this Fourth of July weekend.
Window at Alamo Flags in Seaport Village has patriotic displays. Mike Ismail, the owner, is proud and grateful to be a free American.
Window at Alamo Flags in Seaport Village has a patriotic display. Mike Ismail, the owner, is proud and grateful to be a free American.
Banners near front of Alamo Flags. The shop will give away 1000 free actual United States flags on the Fourth of July!
Banners near front of Alamo Flags. The shop will give away 1000 actual United States flags on the Fourth of July!
Tourists wearing Old Glory have disembarked from a San Diego SEAL Tours cool Hydra-Terra vehicle at Seaport Village.
Tourists wearing Old Glory have disembarked at Seaport Village from a San Diego SEAL Tours cool Hydra-Terra vehicle, after taking a bay cruise.

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Daughters of American Revolution in Balboa Park.

Table includes an Exposition Cook Book, letters, activity books, and other DAR documents.
Table includes an Exposition Cook Book, letters, activity books, and other DAR documents.

When I was in middle school, I won a medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution for an essay I wrote about Francis Scott Key. I’d forgotten all about it until yesterday.

After checking out the English Village Fete at the International Cottages, I moseyed across Pan American Road to see if anything was going on in the Balboa Park Club building (which used to be the New Mexico state building during the 1915 Panama-California Exposition).

In the big Balboa Park Club Ballroom, San Diegans young and old were having a blast dancing. In the smaller Santa Fe Room, as a part of Balboa Park’s centennial events, a few smiling people were showcasing elaborate historical displays.

I was welcomed enthusiastically. The Daughters of the American Revolution San Diego Chapter was holding this event to commemorate our country’s founding and the long, interesting history of the DAR.

Fascinating material covered two rows of tables.  Many displays concerned tracing one’s ancestry and how to search historical archives. To be a member of the lineage-based organization your family tree must include a participant in the American Revolution.

The Daughters of the American Revolution has placed various historical plaques throughout San Diego over the years. I’ve documented two plaques on my blog. One is on the outside of the Santa Fe Depot. The other is in the plaza in front of Balboa Park’s Museum of Man.

The Balboa Park Club building designed to appear like an adobe in America's Southwest.
The Balboa Park Club building was designed to appear like an adobe in America’s Southwest.
Daughters of the American Revolution memorabilia exhibited in Balboa Park.
Daughters of the American Revolution memorabilia exhibited in Balboa Park.
A Daughters of the American Revolution magazine from 1916.
A Daughters of the American Revolution magazine from 1916.
Interesting graphic shows first 12 Regents of San Diego DAR.
Interesting graphic shows first 12 Regents of San Diego DAR.
Arrival in San Diego of President General of the National Society was big news in 1915.
Arrival in San Diego of President General of the National Society was big news in 1915.
A cool exhibit by an African American lady shows her rich family history.
A cool exhibit by an African American lady shows her rich family history.
Pins and medals of all sorts. Some contain the names of patriotic relations.
Pins and medals of all sorts. Some contain the names of patriotic relations.
One exhibit encourages and assists Hispanic Americans searching for their ancestors.
One poster encourages and assists Hispanic Americans searching for their ancestors.
Some beautiful quilts were out for visitors to admire.
Some beautiful quilts were out for visitors to admire.
One example of china with a 1915 San Diego Chapter emblem were on display.
Example of china produced by the San Diego Chapter in 1915.

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