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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, YaterYater writes: Dear Cosmos, You’ve been so focused on digging up all the Centennial-related events for your blog, I didn’t want another Balboa Park celebration very near and dear to my heart to get over-sniffed. Would you mind telling your readers about the Spanish Village’s 80th anniversary party this weekend?

Cosmos: As a personal favor to this year’s first runner-up in the 2015 Top Dog Photo Contest, I am very happy to oblige!

I’ll be the first to admit, with so much going on every week to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition, it’s easy to forget many Balboa Park institutions are celebrating important anniversaries of their own. Like many other attractions in the Park, the Spanish Village Art Center was originally built for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. To mark the occasion, my pooch-friendly friends at Spanish Village are hosting a birthday bash on Saturday, September 19, from 12 noon to 7pm, featuring live music, free treats, art demos, prizes, and more!

Throughout the afternoon and evening, visitors can paw through participating artist studios, many of which will be serving refreshments. Raffle tickets will be handed out to anyone coughing up a few bones to make an art purchase on the patio or in the studios. There will also be a silent auction of art works donated by Spanish Village artists.

In the courtyard area, classical/flamenco guitarist James Clarkston will perform from 12pm to 3pm, and from 3pm to 7pm, the indie folk-rock band Cactus 5 takes over. Pups of all ages will enjoy the Steampunk Bugz activity, along with free ice cream by Niederfranks. Hot dogs (the edible kind, not yours truly) will be available for purchase.

There will also be artist demos by Art in Wood and the Sculptors Guild, which will be hosting a reception of their own that day in conjunction with a fundraiser for Surfrider, beginning at 5pm.

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I’ve seen many heat waves come and go in San Diego, but one thing I’ve never understood is why so many people, like Pavlov’s dog, automatically head to the beach as the mercury approaches triple digits. Maybe it’s my inability to completely shed my fur coat, but the last thing I want to do on a hot day is sit completely exposed on heat-absorbing and radiating sand underneath a scorching sun for hours with no shade trees in sight. Yes, taking a dip in the ocean water can cool my haunches for a bit, but by the tenth time I get splashed in the snout by an unleashed pup or get my paws tangled up in kelp or seaweed, I’m ready to throw in the towel.

For me Balboa Park offers the best of both worlds: a beautiful outdoor setting and plenty of shade, not to mention dozens of air-conditioned cultural attractions for my bipedal readers. Here are four of the best ways to beat the summer heat in Balboa Park:

Jean-Michel Cousteau Secret Ocean IMAX film, divers with shark1. Explore the Deep Blue Sea

You don’t need to get sand in uncomfortable places or saltwater in your mouth to explore the ocean. Three films currently showing in cool indoor theaters at two Balboa Park museums immerse audiences in scenic undersea adventures. Now showing on the Reuben H. Fleet’s IMAX dome are Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean and Humpback Whales; inside the San Diego Natural History Museum’s 3-D theater, catch the classic Ocean Oasis.

2. Bask in Fountain Spray

Conveniently located between the Reuben H. Fleet and Natural History Museum, the Bea Evenson Fountain is a popular gathering spot on a warm day. When turned on, the 50-60 foot water jet produces a fine cooling mist, and the shallow pool is perfect for dipping one’s paws.

3. Indoor Garden Paradise

For 100 years, the Botanical Building’s majestic wood lathe structure has served as Balboa Park’s primary public greenhouse. Surrounded by lush plants, exotic foliage and flowers, and soothing fountains, visitors are invited to sniff around and cool their heels on one of the shady benches for as long as they like (except on Thursdays, of course, when the Botanical Building is closed).

4. No Umbrella Required

If lugging your own giant umbrella across hot sand to find a comfortable spot to enjoy lunch and a cool beverage is not your idea of fun, try one of Balboa Park’s many outdoor cafés. Providing ample seating with umbrellas are Balboa Park’s only craft beer garden, Panama 66, which spills out on to the pooch-friendly Plaza de Panama, the Tea Pavilion, located next to the Japanese Friendship Garden, and the Village Grill for juicy hot dogs and hamburgers.

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With Labor Day falling so late this year when many schools are already back in session, families may feel like they are on a short leash for this three-day holiday weekend. Fortunately lower gas prices are making car trips the way to go for a quick Labor Day weekend getaway.

Pack leaders will be especially happy to hear that they still have time to catch this year’s biggest exhibitions in Balboa Park, including many that offer an interactive playground atmosphere.

Circus: Science Under the Big Top

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, thru Sept. 7

This is your last chance to step right up and experience life as a circus acrobat, contortionist, juggler, or clown through a variety of interactive displays while learning the science of how humans and animals perform such incredible feats.



San Diego Air & Space Museum, thru Sept. 13

Your pooch will never have another chance to eat your kids’ math homework after they learn how much understanding algebra and geometry can improve their skateboarding, video game design, music-making, mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, and robotics skills.


Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland

The San Diego Museum of Art, thru Oct. 13

The legendary playground is brought back to life through original paintings, drawings, posters, films, sound recordings, and artifacts, revealing how folks had fun before smart phone apps told them how to sniff around and interact with their environment.


Nighttime Zoo — Shake, Rattle, & Roar

The San Diego Zoo, thru Sept. 7

Watch my favorite animal friends move to a different beat as a variety of musical performances throughout the zoo get everyone’s claws and paws tapping.

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I’m sure I’m not the only canine-loving San Diegan who feels Balboa Park’s Centennial year would not be complete without officially crowning a Top Dog for 2015. Even though the results of the public vote were announced last week, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce our new leader of the pack, Top Dog Photo Contest winner Lou Bear.

It’s hard to ignore the similarities between this year’s winning photo and that of last year’s most photogenic pooch, Rayg’n. But who am I to question our voters’ taste in fine photography? Perched atop a railing overlooking the Lily Pond with two of Balboa Park’s most iconic buildings in the backdrop, Lou Bear perfectly complements the classic postcard view of the Park.

And what is Lou Bear’s reward for being such an obedient sitter in this year’s first-place photo? An overnight stay at Loews Coronado Bay Resort and an enhanced “Loews Loves Pets” amenity package!

A bark-out also goes to my buddy Yater, whose second-place photo taken inside the Spanish Village courtyard fittingly fetches a $25 gift certificate to the Spanish Village Art Center and a custom dichroic glass dog tag by Spanish Village artist Chris Stell.

Thirdly, I’d like to congratulate a truly aspirational pup, Leonardo da Frenchie, who at the tender age of 11 months takes home a fine pack of third-place prizes, including a Family 4-Pack of tickets to the Museum of Photographic Arts and another Family 4-Pack to an upcoming show at San Diego Junior Theatre.

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Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, Olivia the CatOlivia the Cat writes: Dear Cosmos, due to a little too much catting around this summer, I’m afraid my family’s staycation budget is completely cashed out. Are there still any fun ways they can celebrate the Centennial for free this summer?

Cosmos: Yes there are, but with only two weeks left, they shouldn’t pussyfoot around about getting their tail to these events. Fortunately, each of this summer’s free festivals has a special finale planned, so your family will be in the catbird’s seat when it comes to experiencing the best of what this summer’s Centennial Celebrations in Balboa Park have to offer. 

  1. Organ Pavilion, duskTwilight in the Park Centennial Concert Preview Series — The final week of the popular weekday evening concert series will sweeten the kitty with not one, but two concert preview events: Moonlight Serenade Orchestra’s August 25 performance will be preceded by a period car display, harmony singers, and swing lessons. And on August 27, 1950s cars, hula hoops, and dance lessons will prep folks for an oldies rock and roll show by The Legends.
  2. Gregory Page and Friends — Another special treat this summer for us song-and-dance hounds has been the Centennial Music Series, held twice weekly in the recently furnished Plaza de Panama. Concluding the series in style will be a Centennial Celebration Concert event on August 29 in the Casa del Prado theater, featuring local jazz man Gregory Page and some very special guests, including actor John C. Reilly.
  3. International Summer Organ Festival Finale — Not to be outshined, the grand-daddy of all concert venues in Balboa Park, Spreckels Organ Pavilion, will conclude a stellar summer under the stars with “100 Years of Broadway!” Joining San Diego’s top-dog civic organist, Dr. Carol Williams, will be soprano Lisa Vroman, baritone Clark Sterling, and tenor Michael Dailey who will perform some of Broadway’s most memorable songs.
  4. Centennial Summer Film Series at The Old Globe — Speaking of Broadway, if song on celluloid is more your style, The Old Globe Theater is wrapping up its free summer Shakespeare film series with West Side Story, the groundbreaking riff on the bard’s Romeo and Juliet. The Lowell Davies Festival Theatre will provide the appropriate “stage” for the August 24 screening.
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