August 15, 2003

Rotary Helps Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch Park

Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotarians, Dave Kulchin, Past President and Michael Bardin, Past Community Director, presented a check for $1,000.00 to Alan Kindale, President of the “Friends of (Leo) Carrillo Ranch,” to be used for the new Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch Park “Art & California History” program.

The “Friends”, a non-profit group of volunteers, created and manage the art program. These volunteers teach about Leo Carrillo and his ranch, Los Kiotes, as a part of California’s history. The art lessons reflect the students’ impression of Carrillo and his ranch in oils and pastels.

In 2003, 1,000 Carlsbad students in fourth grade from 34 classes in 11 schools in three districts were given these lessons. Future classes will be held in the Park. The children’s winning art works “Best-Of-Class”, for 2003, in this their sixth year of classes, are shown at a www.carrillo-ranch.org.

The City of Carlsbad spent nearly 5 million dollars in the development of Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch Park. The Grand Opening is at 6200 Flying LC Lane (Carrillo’s brand was a winged C encircling an L), off Melrose Drive on Carrillo Way. The date is Saturday, August 16, 2003, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with food, entertainment, demonstrations, and children’s activities.

Leo Carrillo was descended from a long-established, aristocratic California family whose heritage goes back to the conquistadores. In the late eighteenth century (1769) when Spanish soldiers and missionaries arrived to establish San Diego, the California’s mission system was born. Leo Carrillo’s great-great-grandfather, José Raimundo Carrillo rode with Father Junipero Serra as he started the Mission chain. Later, he became the first provisional governor of California. Carrillo’s Grandparents lived in San Diego’s Old Town. Josefa, his grandmother, came from the famous Bandini family.

Carrillo (1880-1961) was born in Los Angeles. Carrillo appeared in 15 stage plays, some on Broadway, and more than 90 motion pictures but, his greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho, the mischievous sidekick to the Cisco Kid, a 1950s television series.

Carrillo was active in California politics and civic affairs and, he was in charge of the annual Fiesta de Santa Barbara. We remember with warm feelings how he always gave his love and time to be available for parades and being close to the people of this state. No wonder Carrillo was known as “Mister California,” a perfect host and our Ambassador of Goodwill. For many years, Carlsbad was his home. It was there, he built his version of the “Rancheros and Haciendas” of the Spanish days in San Diego County.

The land parcel, the Agua Hedionda Land Grant was originally over 13,000 acres. Carrillo acquired 1,700 of these acres for $17.00 an acre. He added land until his ranch included 2,538 acres of land that was covered with shrubbery and massive trees. Screeching sounds were heard all over the ranch from an abundance of peacocks. The current park covers only 27 acres.

Leo Carrillo most often played the part of a fool but he was actually an intelligent, literate man. He was one of our most influential and avid environmentalists, conservationist and historic preservationist. Carrillo was a Founding Director of the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum in Arcadia. His favorite projects included the purchase and restoration of the Olvera Street Adobe in Los Angeles and the creation of the Anza-Borrego Dessert State Park in San Diego County.

After Justice Earl Warren’s successful race for Governor, with Carrillo as his campaign manager, Warren appointed him Commissioner of State Beaches and Parks where he served for 18 years. Commissioner Carrillo’s greatest socio-cultural achievement was the acquisition of San Simeon the truly awesome Hearst Castle north of Cambria. Carrillo’s contributions were recognized by a stretch of beach near Malibu, named in his honor, as Leo Carrillo State Park and Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is far from finished. The Friends of the ranch are eagerly awaiting the construction of a 60 seat theater to show Carrillo’s films and other educational programs. It is estimated the ranch will be done between 2015 and 2020.

Story submitted by Delta Collins.

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