December 7, 2007

Fifty-Seventh Annual Las Posadas & 1st Annual 4-Day Fiesta Navidad December 12-15 In Historic Old Town San Diego

Historic Old Town Community Foundation presents Fiesta Navidad, a 4-Day FREE evening celebration. A large part of the Christmas tradition is one of gift giving and the Old Town community gives this free event as its holiday gift to all of San Diego.

The Fiesta includes Las Posadas, Pastorela concerts, church choirs, bell ringers, early Californio and other traditional holiday music. Unique to Old Town’s celebration will be the breaking of piñatas, and of course Santa Claus will be on hand. Designed for the whole family there will also be holiday specific shopping opportunities, numerous free museum programs and participating restaurants highlighting traditional holiday dishes. If people can only attend one holiday activity this year, this is the one to attend. Old Town is a large community and encompasses State, County and City parks, along with over 100 shops, 34 restaurants and 16 museums.

Museums throughout all of Old Town will be providing special programs. These will include musical performances, such as at the Whaley House, which will be in full Victorian Christmas décor. There will be candlelit walking tours in the State park every 30 minutes on December 14 and 15, where visitors will experience historic vignettes throughout the park, including the lantern-lit furnished rooms of the 1830’s Casa de Machado y Silvas and Casa de Estudillo. The historic working blacksmith shop, San Diego Union Newspaper Printing shop and newly refurbished Seeley Stable will be among the many museums open.

Local churches will highlight their choirs, the Adobe Chapel will provide traditional Pastorela concerts, there will be mariachis and much more as part of the festivities. Visitors will be able to travel throughout Old Town, using a map to experience free concerts of all types each evening.

“Fiesta Navidad is important for many reasons,” says Lehn Goetz, President of Historic Old Town Community Foundation (HOTCF). “It brings together the community to celebrate their culture. These two things, community and culture, are important to the Old Town community and this 4-day celebration of Fiesta Navidad provides both.” Goetz goes on to say that “this year’s event will be especially important to all San Diegans after the fires and we hope to provide some relief with our gift to the public, to visit the entire community of Old Town and enjoy music of the season, museums, tours and simply revel in the true spirit of the season.”

The opening night event on December 12 is Las Posadas. This all volunteer event now ranks as one of the oldest Las Posadas celebrations in the United States! It includes over 100 volunteers with three choirs, from the SDSU Adult religious studies group, Francis Parker School and the Mormon Battalion.

Las Posadas began in the 16th century as a liturgical event celebrating the pilgrimage of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. It has since evolved into an event in which people participate by asking for symbolic lodging. The public is invited to be a part of the procession and to join with the choir in singing traditional Mexican and American songs. Luminarias light the way beginning at Heritage Park with opening ceremonies and singing at the Temple Beth Israel and continuing through Old Town into the State Park to the Plaza, which since the 1820s has served as the town’s place of gathering.

As with any tradition, there are regional variations. Here the pilgrims are accompanied by two people playing the role of Mary and Joseph, complete with donkey. Old Town’s Las Posadas is celebrated in one evening with nine different stops or “inns” throughout the community. The procession makes its final stop at the Casa de Estudillo to culminate in celebration and the breaking of the piñata, while museums, shops and restaurants stay open late for the public to enjoy afterwards.

The tradition of Christmas that will be celebrated during the four evenings is a historic one and in Old Town, as the birthplace of California, we are able to reenact and interpret historical events as an important part of San Diego’s cultural heritage. This event is geared toward celebrating the holidays using the deep-rooted history of the over 200-year-old community of Old Town. Karen Beery, Interpretation and Education Manager of California State Parks San Diego Coast District says, “Cooperative efforts within the Old Town community are important to our park. We are pleased to help bring a free holiday event of this magnitude to the people of San Diego.”

Kick off opening night event is Las Posadas: Wednesday, December 12 at 6pm beginning at Heritage Park at 2470 Heritage Park Row. Fiesta Navidad continues each evening through Saturday, December 15, 6-9pm.

This 4-day celebration is a free event to the public. Program maps will be available throughout Old Town at restaurants, shops and museums and will also be available online at www.oldtownsandiegoguide.com.

Fiesta Navidad is presented by Historic Old Town Community Foundation in collaboration with Save Our Heritage Organization, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, County and City Parks. More information can be found at www.old townsandiegoguide.com.

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