March is for the birds in Santa Ana

March 28, 2012 by  

For the 54th time, the 1.5 mile route along El Camino Real, Del Obispo Street and Camino Capistrano was filled with horses, dancers and over 3,000 people participating in the Swallows Day Parade. This parade served as the culmination of the Fiesta de la Golondrinas, a Santa Ana celebration of the migration of swallows from Argentina to the San Juan Capistrano Mission in California each spring.

Every October, the birds leave the area and migrate 6,000 miles south to Goya, Corrientes, Argentina. The centuries old tradition of ringing the church bells of the San Juan Capistrano attracts thousands of visitors each year. According to legend, the Swallows took refuge within the walls of the mission because innkeepers kept destroying their muddy nests. San Juan Capistrano’s proximity to two rivers also made it attractive to the birds due to the abundance of insects. Local development has resulted in less insects and caused some swallows to settle further away, however.

Each year, the Swallows Day Parade has a theme. This year’s theme was “How the West was Fun!” and was organized by the San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association. There was also a traditional Mexican style market where nearly 100 vendors sold specially crafted goods to parade goers. One of the most famous aspects of the event is the “hoosegow,” or lock up; members of the Fiesta Association “arrest” clean shaven men and detain them until their family or friends “bail” them out by making a small donation to the organization in exchange for a souvenir.

Banner printing helps organizers of such events promote them. Colorful banners also contribute to the decor and atmosphere.