San Gabriel Mission Celebrates 243rd Anniversary during the Annual Fiesta
Over last Labor Day weekend, a record-breaking crowd estimated at 23,000 helped celebrate San Gabriel Mission’s 243rd anniversary with many festivities at the mission’s annual fiesta.
Fiesta attendees enjoyed the international foods, games (including bingo in the air-conditioned parish center), rides, and live music at the entertainment pavilion. Performances from Thee in Crowd, The Story Tellers, ACE Band, Susie Hansen’s Latin Jazz Band, and Carolina Russek’s Ballet Folklorico dancers drew large crowds and enlivened the fiesta.
At 6 pm on Friday, the ringing of the bells ceremony opened the fiesta at the Mission bell wall, followed by the blessing of the fiesta grounds.
Saturday’s festivities started at 6 am with a walk-or-bike event to Los Angeles commemorating the group that left San Gabriel Mission to form the City of Los Angeles. Hundreds of walkers and cyclists 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 pets’ costume contest, blessing of the animals, Gabrieleno Tongva Indians and re-enactors of history, an art show in the mission gardens, and a birthday cake at the fiesta stage rounded out Saturday’s activities.
Sunday started with the Founders’ Memorial Mass at 9:30 am in the old mission church, followed by day two of the art and photography show in the gardens.
Also included among the fiesta’s traditions is the royal court contest where the fiesta royal court members are selected. This court represents the Mission at its fiesta and throughout the year at church and other civic and social events. The fiesta wouldn’t have been possible without our team of 400+ talented and dedicated volunteers.
Our volunteers happily worked together as they set up and took down the fiesta, prepared and served delicious international foods, operated game booths, and performed on stage. A few dozen of our tireless volunteers even showed up on Labor Day to clean the grounds, and by lunchtime you couldn’t even tell there had been a major event!
Thank you to everyone who made the fiesta a success. Everyone enjoyed seeing neighbors, friends, and co-workers in a fun atmosphere full of great spirit and happiness.