Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead

Record Crowd Celebrated 243rd Birthday of San Gabriel Mission

An estimated record crowd of 23,000 people helped celebrate San Gabriel Mission’s 243rd birthday on Aug. 29-31, with many festivities at its annual fiesta that is always held Friday through Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

“People came from even out of state to help the mission celebrate its 243rd birthday,” announced Chuck Lyons, mission public relations director. “Everyone enjoyed the international foods, games, rides and packed the entertainment pavilion each night with Saturday night’s annual performance by Thee in Crowd and The Story Tellers bringing probably the biggest audience in the mission fiesta’s history. ACE band on Sunday night and Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band on Friday night also brought large crowds to the entertainment pavilion. And the other entertainment from singers to Carolina Russek Ballet Folklorico dancers also enlivened the fiesta with their big crowds. Bingo had a record crowd in the air conditioned parish center as people at the fiesta enjoyed seeing neighbors, friends and co-workers in a fun atmosphere full of great spirit and happiness.”

“Our 400 plus volunteers happily worked together as they served the fiesta visitors whether preparing and serving delicious international foods, operating game booths, performing on stage or the very important setting up and taking down of the fiesta. A few dozen of our tireless volunteers that showed up on Labor Day morning to clean the grounds by lunchtime made it look like there was no event during the past weekend, amazing hard-working people, just like our clean up volunteers throughout the fiesta. We have an amazing group of 400 plus volunteer people who really care about our visitors having a great time, Lyons emphasized. “And our volunteers had fun also.”

On Friday, Aug. 29, the Ringing of the Bells Ceremony started the fiesta at 6 p.m. at the mission bell wall, followed by the Blessing of the fiesta grounds.

Saturday, Aug. 30, festivities started at 6 a.m. with Walk or Bike to Los Angeles to re-enact the group that left San Gabriel Mission to go start the City of Los Angeles. Hundreds of walkers and bicyclists traveled from the mission to El Pueblo de Los Angeles by Olvera Street, where the City of Los Angeles celebrated its 233rd birthday.

The Children’s and Pet’s Costume Contest, Blessing of the Animals, Gabrieleno Tongva indians and re-enactors of history and art show in the mission gardens, and a birthday cake at the fiesta stage rounded out Saturday’s activities.

On Sunday, Aug. 31, the Founders’ Memorial Mass at 9:30 a.m. was in the old mission church, followed by the day two of the Art and Photography Show in the gardens.

Among the traditions of the fiesta are the Royal Court Contest and the Fiesta Royal Court members representing the mission at its fiesta and throughout the year at church, civic and social events. This year’s Royal Court includes Queen Sarah Hauffen-Salgado of Gabrielino High School, Princesses Marla Cueva of Cal State Los Angeles, Gissele Mercado of Temple City High School, Jessica Moreno of Rosemead High School and Anne Renderos of Pasadena City College.

The fiesta included religious, historical and cultural festivities, small and large rides, game booths, international foods, entertainment in the evenings, and prize drawings totaling more than $9,000 on Aug. 31, to close the fiesta.

Xavier Vargas, fiesta executive director, emphasized “the fiesta success is due to the participants enjoying all parts of the fiesta, and the 400 plus volunteers that made it possible, along with generous sponsors from small companies to national companies supporting this oldest end of summer celebration in the Southland.”




Chief Ernie Salas (on right) and Caroline Perez-Clark of the Kizh Gabrieleno San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, a crowd and Carolina Russek Ballet Folklorico dancers Denise Pereida (on left) and her grandmother Patricia Pereida.

Leave a Response