Yearlong celebration kicks off in San Diego’s Balboa Park

December 26, 2014 by  

San Diego lit up the Christmas tree in Balboa Park on November 28, kicking off the December Nights festival, as well as a year-long celebration to commemorate the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

December Nights—the popular event originally known as Christmas on the Prado—is just the start of the festivities; the centennial celebrations are in honor of the exposition, which made the city popular worldwide as a tourist destination, as well as a great place to live and work, and drew the attention of the U.S. Navy, which made San Diego the home port of its Pacific Fleet. Naval Station San Diego is the largest naval base on the West Coast.

When the exposition was held, San Diego’s population was only about 40,000, yet this small town decided to hold a world’s fair, and invite everyone to participate. The fair put the city on the map, and started a hundred years of growth.

In addition to celebrating the past, the festival celebrates a number of improvements made to Balboa Park itself, one of the largest urban parks in the country. New, low-energy lighting makes the park safer and increases its beauty. The California Tower, which is part of the Museum of Man, has been refurbished, and will open to climbers again on January 1, the first time since 1935. The San Diego Zoo, which is located in the park, will be 100 next year, and plans to spend over $60m on improvements in the next two years.

City officials could work with brochure printers to create a booklet explaining the festival, and make it available in hotels, restaurants, at the airport, Amtrak station, and similar venues.