Viva La Fiesta!
Chief Anthony “Red Blood” Morales rang the bells at the San Gabriel Mission on September 3 to announce the 239th Anniversary of the mission and welcomed all to the Fiesta held on Labor Day weekend.
Father Steve Niskanen welcomed all to the fiesta. This year’s theme is “Hope in God’s Creation”. We believe in the dignity of all people. We can provide peace for all. The 239th Fiesta of San Gabriel is a weekend filled with joy, peace and fellowship.
Fathers Steve Niskanen, Quyen Nguyen and Theo Fuentes asked God’s blessing on the Fiesta Days and all the participants. The blessing was in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Tagalog. Casey Lo from State Senator Carol Liu presented a proclamation to the Mission for sharing the Mission traditions.
Chief Morales and Andrew “Guiding Young Cloud” Morales performed a White Sage offering blessing the event. They are members of the Gabrieleno-Tongva tribal who sang a traditional song in honor of their ancestors who built this mission.
The Royal Court Princess Michelle Nguyen, Queen Julia Rubio Hernandez and Princess Briana Hernandez enjoyed the celebration.
The event included carnival rides, game booths, a beer and wine garden and international food booths.
Children’s and Pets’ Costume Contest is one of the highlights of the event. This year’s event was sponsored by the Youth Ministry of the Church under the leadership of Yvette Araujo. The judges were Father Theo Fuentes, a Claretian priest for 59 years, Mary Cammarano, who served on the City Council for 16 years and Gloria Barrios, a member of the parish since her baptism.
The contests, open to any size pet and children up to the age of 13, included a chance to win raffle prizes donated by the Mission Gift Shop.
All the pet contestants in the categories of largest, smallest, best dressed and most unique walked up on the stage for their chance to win the event.
The winners of the Pet Contest: Koda, Sticky the Stick Bug, Candy Corn and Wolf.
The children had several categories to enter that included Indian, Spanish, Mexican, Cowboys/Cowgirls, Historical or Most Unique. They paraded around the stage dressed in beautiful costumes.
Winners of the Children’s Contest: Maya Acosta, Steven Courrubias, Laila Pelliccino, Elijah Almanza, Bernardo Rios, Sabrinna Cozano and Antonio Robles. They posed for pictures with the Royal Court.
Father Theo Fuentes asked God’s blessings on the animals. God created all the animals to share their lives with human companions. He thanked God for the birds in the air, the fish in the seas and all the animals on land. He sprinkled holy water on each pet and their human.
Re-enactors were dressed in period costumes that depicted persons from Mission history.
Sgt. Lopez, a Mission Guard, Cecilao Wauscher and Kathleen Rabago represented Pico Pio’s grandmothers and Bruce Buonauro as Father Junipero Serra. They each told a story about their life in early California.
Andrew “Guiding Young Cloud” Morales, Carlos Arther, Marillion Rocha and Matt “Sky Eagle Who Sings With His Heart” Lovia shared history with the guests.
Paul “Bear” Bradford showed everyone how to make a melon vessel out of local adobe clay. The early residents of the Mission set them out in the sun to dry. He explained the different styles of pots to the students.
Blacksmith Klaus Duebbert used his mini-furnace to show people how nails were made in the old days.
Members of the Yesteryear Dance group performed several Spanish Dances from the 1772 Garcia manuscript.
Mountain Man TonyDelgadilla wore a Canadian Timber Wolf hat that was worn for warmth. The mountain men ate the meat and wore the pelts of the animals that they killed. The early cowboys were called Californios who pledged their allegiance to California. They were expert horsemen.
The History Reception was held on the Museum Patio. Chuck Lyons welcomed all to this special event that recognized people who donate their time and energy to the Mission. Many of the guests traced their heritage back to the original founders of the San Gabriel Mission.
Mr. Lyons stated the stories needed to be told and retold for the future. Our youth need to be involved in history. We need to keep the culture going.
Elizabeth Sanchez and Julie Sanchez were honored for their dedication to the Mission. They are high school seniors who participate in Folklorico dancing and Historical Society.
Chuck Lyons presented a proclamation to Mary Cammarano for her many years of devotion to the Mission. A former Councilmembers she serves as a docent at the museum and works at the fiesta every year.
Chuck Lyons presented a proclamation to John Macias, a local historian who has been researching the history of San Gabriel and the surrounding cities.
The annual Fiesta is the major fundraising event for the San Gabriel Mission. The residents and their guests enjoy good food, games, carnival rides and fellowship during the three-day party.
The Fiesta opens a window into the early life of the residents of the San Gabriel Mission.
The San Gabriel Mission and Museum, located at 427 S. Junipero Serra Dr. at Mission Road in San Gabriel, is opened to the public. For directions and more information please call 626-457-3048 or email: www.sangabrielmission.org