Festival marking Cabrillo’s landing in Point Loma enters 50th year
by Dave Schwab
Sep 18, 2013 | 2418 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The highlight of the Cabrillo Festival in Point Loma — now in its 50th year — is the re-enactment of Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s landing at Ballast Point in 1542.  Photo by Paul Hansen I The Beacon
The highlight of the Cabrillo Festival in Point Loma — now in its 50th year — is the re-enactment of Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s landing at Ballast Point in 1542. Photo by Paul Hansen I The Beacon
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Little did Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo know when he stepped ashore on Sept. 28, 1542 on Ballast Point — a tiny peninsula extending into San Diego Bay from Point Loma — that the event would be commemorated forever after and become a state holiday.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the modern-day San Diego celebration of Cabrillo’s landing, the first European explorer to discover the West Coast of the United States. 

San Diego’s Cabrillo Festival 2013 will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28 and 29.

“We’re going back in time and commemorating the voyages of exploration along the coast of California and Cabrillo’s arrival in San Diego,” said Idalmiro Manuel da Rosa, Cabrillo Festival president.

Da Rosa said the two-day festival also highlights the culture and traditions of San Diego’s 15,000 to 20,000 Portuguese.

“We have banners up and down Rose-scrans Street,” said da Rosa. “The festival has the support of all local organizations, including the Point Loma Association, as well as the tremendous support of Naval Base Point Loma, which hosts the festival’s events on Sunday.”

On Sept. 28, the weekend celebration kicks off with a commemorative ceremony and wreath-laying event to honor Cabrillo at the Cabrillo National Monument, 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive. This will be followed by the Cabrillo Discovery Celebration Dinner-Dance at the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall,

2818 Avenida de Portugal in Point Loma at 6 p.m., with no host cocktails, dinner and dancing at $50 per person.

On Sept. 29, the Cabrillo Festival changes venues to Ballast Point, Naval Base Point Loma at the south end of Rosecrans Street.

The free event features music, dancing, children’s activities and foods of Native Americans, Mexico, Portugal and Spain. There will also be knot tying and Kumeyaay basket making.

The highlight of the Cabrillo Festival is the Sept. 29 re-enactment of Cabrillo’s 16th century landing on the shores of San Diego Bay where, at 1 p.m., actors in period garb will portray Cabrillo, his soldiers and a priest sailing into the bay and claiming the land in the name of Spain.

A Portuguese navigator sailing under the flag of Spain, Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay while searching for the Strait of Anian, a mythical all-water route across North America.

When Cabrillo landed in Point Loma, he originally named the area San Miguel in honor of St. Michael’s Day, which was to be celebrated the next day. Shortly after he left what would become San Diego, Cabrillo died of an infection on the islands outside Santa Barbara.

In honor of his landing on the West Coast, Sept. 28 is recognized as Cabrillo Day in California.

The Cabrillo Festival is a fun event for the entire family, with exciting folkloric performances, cultural demonstrations and educational activities. Bright costumes and dramatic music and dancing bring to life the traditions of the Native American, Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cultures that are part of the Age of Exploration.

Sponsored by Cabrillo Civic Club

No. 16 of San Diego and the Portuguese American Social and Civic Club, tickets for the Saturday night dinner-dance can be purchased by calling (619) 426-0769 or (619) 221-8084.

There was also a Cabrillo Festival in Ensenada, Baja California, commemorating Cabrillo’s arrival in Todos Santos Bay in 1542 on Sept. 17.

For more information, visit www.cabrillofestival.org.
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