One hundred years of Mission Beach
by Dave Schwab
Jan 23, 2014 | 11582 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mission Beach’s wooden boardwalk offered an easy stroll along the beach in 1915. 	Courtesy photos
Mission Beach’s wooden boardwalk offered an easy stroll along the beach in 1915. Courtesy photos
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The Plunge is shown during its early days. The pool opened in May 1925 and was, at the time, the world’s largest saltwater pool, holding 400,000 gallons of water.
The Plunge is shown during its early days. The pool opened in May 1925 and was, at the time, the world’s largest saltwater pool, holding 400,000 gallons of water.
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A Mission Beach lifeguard station in 1930.
A Mission Beach lifeguard station in 1930.
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Belmont Park looked slightly different nearly 100 years ago, as did the attire of its patrons.
Belmont Park looked slightly different nearly 100 years ago, as did the attire of its patrons.
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A Mission Beach centennial celebration will begin in March with a monument dedication and end in September with a Belmont Park festival.

The months-long beach birthday is appropriate given the community’s character, said Wendy Crain who, along with co-chairwoman Debbie Watkins, is heading the centennial gala.

“It goes with the spirit of Mission Beach, which is a celebratory town,” said Crain, noting beach residents are “very active,” always wanting to be involved in the community and leading “outdoor lifestyles.”

Crain said the genesis of the centennial celebration goes back to May 2013 and the influence of local historian Phil Prather, who co-wrote “Images of America: Mission Beach” along with Terry Curren.


“We started going to community organizations — Mission Beach Town Council, Mission Beach Women’s Club, OMBAC (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club) — to get community support and they gave 100 percent, which is wonderful,” said Crain. “We’ve tried to make it community oriented with horseshoe and volleyball tournaments, as well as doing things with our oldest icons, the roller coaster and The Plunge swimming pool at Belmont Park.”

In March, the centennial celebration kicks off with a monument dedication.

“We’re hoping to have a proclamation from the mayor to go along with our monument, a big boulder with an oxidized bronze plaque placed between Belmont Park and the south lifeguard restroom on the beach,” said Crain. The monument, she said, is being paid for by both the Mission Beach Women’s Club and the Mission Beach Town Council.

In April, the celebration continues with a Taste of Mission Beach, featuring food samples from local restaurants.

In May, festivities take a maritime turn with a surf contest and “meet the legends” event, followed in June with a Father’s Day vintage car show at Belmont Park and a movie viewing at The Plunge pool in July. August will feature a sandcastle event and September will wrap up the festivities with a volleyball/horseshoes beachfest, as well as the gala finish, a Sept. 27 Centennial Festival at Belmont Park/Ventura Blvd.

Cordelia Mendoza, head of the centennial’s Museum Committee, said plans are in the works to convert Belmont Park’s ticket booth for use as a Mission Beach museum with “all new pictures that have never been seen before” donated by local families.

“We’re also making a DVD that we’ll be selling at the museum, as well as selling our own T-shirts,” Mendoza said.

Work on the new museum, Mendoza said, is expected to be completed by the celebration kick-off in March.

On June 14, 1914, a syndicate headed by John D. Spreckels and managed by George S. Barney submitted a subdivision map surveyed by D.A. Loebenstein to the Common Council of San Diego for approval and acceptance. On Dec. 14, 1914, the first official map of Mission Beach was signed and adopted.

“In 1915, a bridge was built across the bay entrance between Ocean and Mission beaches,” said Prather, co-author of the Mission Beach historical book. “Previous to that, in order to get to Mission Beach you had to enter from the Pacific Beach side — a long trip in a horse and buggy or a Model T from San Diego.”

Prather said the bridge changed the demographics and future of the beachfront.

“Until the bridge was built, Ocean Beach was the beach of choice with its many restaurants and businesses,” he said. “The main attraction was Wonderland, an amusement center built in 1913, which was washed out a couple of years later by a large winter storm. People began taking the trolley across the bridge once it was built to old Mission Beach.”

For more information about Mission Beach’s centennial visit www.missionbeachcentennial.org.

Mission Beach Centennial celebrations throughout the year

• Saturday, March 22 — Mission Beach Centennial Monument and plaque dedication and resident walk, 10 to 11 a.m. Location TBD.

• Thursday, April 10 — Centennial Taste of Mission Beach, 4 to 9 p.m.

• Saturday, May 17 — Mission Beach Centennial Surf Contest/Meet the Legends, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Sunday, June 15 — Mission Beach Centennial Father’s Day Car Show at Belmont Park, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Tuesday, July 15 — Mission Beach Centennial Dive-In Movie at the Plunge, 8 to 10 p.m.

• Sunday, Aug. 17 — Mission Beach Centennial How to Build A Sandcastle Clinic, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• August (date TBD) — Mission Beach Centennial OMSHOES

• Saturday, Sept. 6 — Mission Beach Centennial OMVOLLEY, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Saturday, Sept. 27 — Mission Beach Centennial Festival at Belmont Park, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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