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

San Gabriel Mission Fiesta


Gabrieleno-Tongva Chief Anthony “Red Blood” Morales rang the mission bells to summon the residents to the San Gabriel Mission 238th Annual Fiesta held on Labor Day weekend, September 4-6.

Father Stephen Niskanen welcomed all to this year’s annual fundraiser. This year’s theme is “Fiesta Forecast: God Reigns”.  He asked people to remember all of the ancestors of the Indians and early founders of the mission. He asked God’s blessing on members of the parish and the fiesta. Have a good and safe time. “Viva San Gabriel Fiesta”.

Fathers Stephen Niskanen and Quyen Nguyen welcomed everyone in English, Spanish, Filipino and Vietnamese.  They asked God’s blessing on the firefighters and the fiesta’s volunteers before they blessed the grounds with holy water.


Chief Anthony “Red Blood” Morales and his son Andy “Guiding Young Cloud” Morales blessed the fiesta with traditional prayers and burned white sage with red yarn. The yarn is a symbol of the blood of their ancestors who have lived in California for over 5,000 years.


The Royal Court: Princess Marissa Sanchez, Queen Victoria Haddad and Princess Jennifer Perez greeted all with a smile as they assumed their duties at the fiesta.

The event included carnival rides, live entertainment, history re-enactors, games, Bingo, International food booths, a beer and wine garden, a tour of the historical gardens and museum.

A special highlight of the fiesta is the Kids & Pets Costume Contest.


The Children’s Costume Contest had children dressed in attire that reflected the culture of the old mission.

Virginia Mullen was the Mistress of Ceremonies. She welcomed all to this event and introduced the Judges: Imelda Bermejo, Mary Cammarano, Gloria Barrios, Adela Del Rio and Frank Ramos.   Members of the Royal Court and their escorts handed out the contest prizes.


Sophia Gil and Sofia Sturger won in the Spanish costume category.


Maya Acosta, Laila Pelliccino and Sabrina Lozano won in the Mexican costume category.


Cayla Boscacci won in the Cowgirl costume category.


Gianna Gil won in the Most Unique Category. She was wearing the same Spanish costume that her mother wore then she was a little one.


Natalia Silveyra won as the Best Dressed Girl (she did not stay at the event to hear that she won) and Steven Covarrubias won as the Best Dressed Boy.


Bella Lopez, Sophie and Blitz with their humans entered the Pet’s Costume Category. Bella Lopez won as the Best Dressed Pet.


Father Stephen Niskanen joined in a dance while the judges were tallying up the votes. Raffle numbers were called out as excited winners each selected a prize from a table of gifts were donated by the Mission Gift Shop.

Mrs. Mullen thanked all the 700 volunteers of the fiesta for their hard work. She also thanked Chuck Lyons and his staff for sponsoring this contest.


Father Stephen Niskanen asked God’s blessing on all the animals. They are beloved by God. He gave them to us for their companionship and love. The animals inhabit the sky, the land and the seas. Noah rescued the animals from the flood. They are part of our human life.


Dogs, cats turtles, birds and gerbils with their humans were each sprinkled with holy water.

The Mission Gardens were opened to the public.  Re-enactors were on hand to teach the guests about the mission history.


Matt “Sky Eagle Sings with his Heart” Lovia and June “Woman of Many Hearts” Lucero shared their Gabrieleno-Tongva culture. The Native Americans raised crops, grapes and cattle at the mission, which was a large settlement. They also wove baskets and made clothes. It took the Indians 14 years to gather all the materials to build the mission and another 14 years to build it at this location.


Sister Brigid (Bonnie) Bray, who was born and raised in Alhambra, displayed her artwork. She won Artist of the Year for her picture “Have a Heart” from the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association.  Sister Brigid works in both watercolors and acrylics.


Her picture “Hope” reminds me of my childhood Christmas.  For more information on Sister Brigid’s artwork please call 626-284-9585 at the Mission Convent.


Jeanne Duebbert demonstrates the “Drop Spindle” used to make yarn from wool.  It is a portable version of the “Spinning Wheel”.


Father Junipero Serra (Bruce Buonauro), dressed in the habit of the day, gave history lessons about the California Missions.


Tina McDaniel and Jessica Flores were busy making adobe clay bricks. They used the same receipt that has been used for centuries. Their bricks were left out in the sun to dry for future use at the mission.


Klaus Duebbert was making mini horseshoes for the guests.  He uses his skills as a blacksmith and adobe brick maker at the mission. He has done many restoration jobs that include the cannon at the mission. He is now working to rebuild the many shops at the mission site.


Paul “Bear” Bradford, a member of the Nez Perce tribe (Neemeepoo) shows off one of the three 5/8 inch ropes that he and Evelyn Kringer made for the mission.  The ropes will be used to ring the bells.  Children of all ages had a chance to help make the ropes.

Mr. Bradford also demonstrated the fine art of pot making from local clay.  The pots were dried in the sun.  He is currently making pots for display in the mission kitchen.

“Pan for Real Gold” demonstration drew a large crowd as people tried their luck in panning for real gold.  It was mentioned after the wild fires cool down it would be easier to locate gold in the mountains that surround Los Angeles.


Joseph Lopez wore a 13-pound leather jacket that was made from 18 full deer hides in six layers. He was dressed as a “Spanish Leather Jacket” soldier from 1790.  These soldiers were the military police that protected the settlement from marauders. The leather jacket protected them from injuries caused by arrows.

Alfred “Ed” Moch-Cota, a member of the Los Pobladores 200, has traced his family tree back to the founding fathers of Los Angeles who walked from the San Gabriel Mission to establish the City of Los Angeles. Mr. Moch-Cota is related to Major Cota, General George Patton and the Roosevelt family. His family tree is a “Who’s Who” of American history on both the East and West coasts.

The History Reception was held on the Museum Patio.

Chuck Lyons welcomed everyone to the event and introduced special guests that included Father Stephen, Sister Brigid, Chief Anthony Morales and members of his tribe, docents and former History Award recipients


Mr. Lyons showed off two of the pots made by Paul “Bear” Bradford for the mission kitchen.


Klaus Duebbert, a historian, spoke on the importance of historical preservation. As a re-enactor he and others bring history to life. He called the mission the spiritual and economic center of the area. The mission was self-sufficient. They raised cattle and crops that included grain, grapes and orange trees. They had a blacksmith shop and a woodworking shop. They made adobe bricks, soap, pottery and wine.  He believes that California history has been neglected. The mission was the center of culture, civilization and education. The museum was built in 1825 and has been preserved for future generations.  He stated that some things are not made any more and must be preserved. He has restored the cannon, wagons and houses. We need to preserve our past.

Mr. Lyons thanked Mr. Duebbert and presented him with a San Gabriel Mission History Award for his support of the mission. He also thanked all of the re-enactors for sharing California history with the guests.


Mr. Lyons presented the San Gabriel Mission Awards to members of the Gabrieleno-Tongva Tribe for building the kiiy house. He thanked them for supporting the mission.


Mr. Lyons presented the San Gabriel Mission Awards to Mary Limon, Elizabeth Lyons and Christine Frederickson for their many hours of volunteering at the mission.

Mr. Lyons thanked every one for their participation and said the museum is always looking for volunteer docents to share the San Gabriel Mission history.


Members of the Gabrieleno-Tongva Tribe who built the “Kiiy House” displayed in the gardens.  This house is built from fireproof materials.  The Native Americans built their kiiy houses by weaving reeds and willow branches together.  It took them weeks to built a house.

Children in the 4th grade and their families will be visiting the San Gabriel Mission in the next few months as part of their history lesson. You can visit the Mission and step back into history. The Mission is located at 427 S. Junipero Serra Drive at Mission Road in San Gabriel.

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