By Jan Siegel
Now that spring is really here, it is time to get out and enjoy events that San Juan Capistrano has to offer. The Mission, the Historical Society, the Chamber of Commerce, the city and Rotary Club are all ready for the exciting “Moments in Time.”
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Gate House at the Mission. The Gate House, built in 1919 by Father O’Sullivan, was meant to raise money to help restore the Mission. He charged 10 cents for admission to the Mission and with that money bought supplies for the restoration of Serra’s Chapel, among other buildings. At that time, the Gate House also served as a gift shop. When the Mission was building the new entrance and the gift shop, it found, behind walls, the original Gate House structure with the art on the walls still intact. To the Mission’s credit, that entire structure was preserved and served as a pathway to the new entrance and gift shop.
One of Father O’Sullivan’s other innovations was to encourage artists to come to the Mission to paint. Many of these works of art are part of the Mission inventory not seen by the public. This was the age of En Plein Air art, a French term for Painting Outdoors. A selection of this artwork is now on display and represents a time capsule for what the Mission looked like before cameras and cell phones became popular for tourists. The exhibit also includes paintings done recently at the Mission. The Mission’s Art Walks every Friday include this new exhibit, which can also be viewed during regular Mission hours.
On Thursday, April 25, at 5:30 p.m., the Chamber and the Los Rios District are once again joining forces for an evening stroll. The shops and the Historical Society will be open. Light refreshments will be available, as well as the opportunity to visit this historic street. Los Rios Street is the oldest residential neighborhood in California and is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
On Sunday, April 28, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., the Historical Society will host its annual Fiesta Day. This popular event will feature Bea Torres and her famous homemade tortillas and salsas, Bob Minty and his whaling exhibit, as well as arts and crafts for children of all ages. Such activities include doll making, a chore table and games from the last century. All of the historic buildings on the property will be open and docents will give talks on the history of each one. In anticipation of a new exhibit starting in May, Diane Lewis will demonstrate the art of mask making. You can get ready for some summer backyard fun and create adventures for friends and family by learning how to make masks for any play or costume. The Portola exhibit can still be viewed during Fiesta Day, as well. This annual event is free to the public.
And don’t forget the Annual Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by the Rotary and the city of San Juan Capistrano on Saturday, April 13, at Los Rios Park starting at 10 a.m. This event is free to the public and includes face painting and a visit from the Easter Bunny, in addition to the egg hunt.
Welcome to spring in San Juan Capistrano!
Jan Siegel is a 28-year resident of San Juan Capistrano. She served on the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission for 13 years and has been a volunteer guide for the San Juan Capistrano Friends of the Library’s architectural walking tour for 18 years. She was named Woman of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 2005, Volunteer of the Year in 2011 and was inducted into the city’s Wall of Recognition in 2007.