Courtesy of the San Juan Bautista Historical Society:
Return with us on Sept. 7 to those thrilling days of yesteryear as we commemorate the colorful past of San Juan Bautista.
The day begins at 9 a.m. with a belly full of old-fashioned pancakes at the Texas Lodge on the corner of Second and Muckelemi Streets. Next stop by the old firehouse on Polk Street, once the site of City Hall, where at 10 a.m. E Clampus Vitus will ceremonially present a plaque dedicated to the many generations of volunteer firefighters who since 1868 risked their lives keeping the city safe.
A parade displaying the life story of San Juan, announced by the famed Ed Kutz of SJB Fiesta Rodeo, unfolds on Third Street at 11 a.m. Led by a Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard, a contingent of Franciscan priests, soldados and their families mirror the story of Spanish life in the newly founded settlement of 1797. The timeline continues with vaqueros on their magnificent horses who bring the Mexican era alive. Then riders portray early American ranching that surrounded San Juan in the latter half of the 1800s. Today there is no end to the equestrian tradition as modern day riders show their skills.
The early days of Hwy 101 once came down Third Street, the main street of town. To demonstrate how this may have appeared, a parade of vintage vehicles predating 1965 will transport members of old local organizations dating back as far as 1853. County Supervisor Anthony Botelho and Assemblyman Robert Rivas will ride along, and State Senator Anna Caballero will also appear.
After the parade, it’s food, games and music at Abbe Park, the city baseball field and perfect venue for such a gathering. Follow signs on Muckelemi Street, bring a picnic basket and blanket, and enjoy a good old-fashioned family fun day. Free hot dogs and cookies are available while they last. Traditional games and contests like tug-o-war, limbo, and 3-legged races can engage children of all ages, even adults. Art activities will invite interesting creativity.
All the while music surrounds everyone. Dancers of folklorico and fandango show the old intricacies of San Juan entertainment. See if you remember the old songs played by the Ukulele Jammers as they lighten the afternoon. The popular bands ending the Day in the Park Picnic are Zack Freitas and the Hired Guns, followed by San Juan’s own Somos.
A serious ceremony, the burning of old and tattered American flags by our Eagle Scouts, will take place at the VFW Hall at 6 p.m. End a very full day with dancing to the Backyard Blues Band in the VFW Hall at 7:30. This is truly celebrating San Juan style.