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Mission bells are rung during last year's St. Joseph's Day celebration. Photo: Allison Jarrell
Mission bells are rung during last year’s St. Joseph’s Day celebration. Photo: Allison Jarrell

The Capistrano Dispatch

St. Joseph’s Day marks the return of the famed cliff swallows from their winter home in Argentina to their spring and summer nesting grounds in San Juan Capistrano. The Mission will celebrate the occasion with a full day of events on Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Mission’s St. Joseph’s Day and Return of the Swallows Celebration begins with mass, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., at the Mission Basilica Church. Mechelle Lawrence-Adams, executive director of the Mission, will deliver a welcome address at 9:55 a.m. in the central courtyard.

Throughout the day, the Mission’s historic bells will be rung to honor St. Joseph’s Day. An official bell-ringing ceremony will be held at the Historic Bell Wall at 11:40 a.m. For the first time ever, this year’s celebration will also feature a flyover at noon by WWII AT-6 Airplanes to honor the nation’s veterans.

Charles Brown, an expert on swallows and professor at the University of Tulsa, will give two on-site presentations on the cliff swallows at 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Other highlights include a “Swingin’ with the Swallows” concert from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., performances by several groups and local schools, mariachi music, activities for children and guided tours. Local food vendors will also be serving meals, treats and refreshments throughout the day.

Event admission is $15 for adults and seniors and $6 for children ages 4-11. Admission is free for Mission Preservation members, current volunteers and children 3 and under.

For a complete list of events, or for more information, visit

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