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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

On the heels of the overwhelmingly successful Top Dog Photo Contest, two-legged pups will now get their share of the spotlight in Balboa Park’s Kid’s-Eye View of the Park Photo Contest.


cosmos-blog_california_building_from_copley_plaza_photo_by_brett_shoafBudding shutter bugs ages 6 to 17 have until November 30 to point and shoot their way through Balboa Park’s vast scenic playground and submit their best shot online. Any non-human subject is fair game, including the Park’s lush gardens and landscape, architecture, recreational facilities, and animals in the San Diego Zoo.


Each submission (one per child) should include a brief statement in the young photographer’s own words explaining the inspiration behind their winning shot.


Speaking of winning, what would a contest be without great prizes? The Kid’s-Eye View of the Park Photo Contest of course has many, awarded for the best three photos in two different age categories: 6–11 and 12–17.


First place prizes include a premium HP Photosmart Printer, a Behind-the-Scenes tour of the Museum of Photographic Arts, and four Balboa Park Passports. Second place wins an exclusive Backstage Pass tour at the San Diego Zoo that will allow a family of four to get up close with some of my exotic friends. And third place is awarded a Family 4-Pack of Gallery/IMAX admissions to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and a $20 gift card to the Fleet’s museum store.


But before you run out and snap that once-in-a-lifetime shot, be sure to read the complete Contest Rules.

Posted in Contests | add a comment

cosmos-blog_ask-cosmos_camdenCamden writes: Dear Cosmos, My family loves the holidays, I mean really loves them, so believe it or not, they actually need more things to do to celebrate the season than Balboa Park December Nights provides. What do you suggest?


Cosmos: Surprisingly this is not an uncommon problem that is actually caused by December Nights itself. Let me explain: the excitement generated both before and after the event whips many folks into such a frenzy, they need more and more holiday-themed activities to keep them going the whole season long. And it’s never too early to start making plans.


cosmos-blog_holiday-events-in-the-park_grinch_the-old-globeIn the interests of full disclosure, let me say right from the start that I, too, experience this condition. Fortunately, us four-legged friends are always welcome at the many holiday concerts in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. For instance, on Sunday, November 28, there will be a Thanksgiving concert featuring San Diego’s Civic Organist Carol Williams and two guest organists, followed by additional concerts with Dr. Williams and the San Diego Children’s Choir on December 5, and another with the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral of San Diego on December 12. The series will be capped off with a holiday sing/bark-along concert on December 19.


For the rest of your family, I suggest they check out the many indoor performances going on throughout the season, including the Old Globe’s annual presentation of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the San Diego Youth Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker, and a number of Christmas-themed shows at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.


And if this still isn’t enough, a daily walk in Balboa Park, which will be decked out in all its holiday glory through New Year’s Day, should satisfy even the most hardcore holiday junkies of any species. I know it works for me.

Posted in Ask Cosmos, Concerts and Events, Stuff to Do | add a comment


Can’t wait until October 31 to start enjoying Halloween? Then why not dress up all your pups (and I do mean all of them, both two- and four-legged) a day early for Balboa Park’s 2nd Annual Halloween Family Day on Saturday, October 30? Most museums in the Park will be open FREE for youngsters 17 and under (with paid adult) and offer free hands-on activities, storytelling, crafts, and other tail waggin’ goodies!


But the event that really has everyone in my pack excited is of course the Halloween Doggie Costume Contest at 1pm in the Spanish Village Art Center courtyard. And as if that wasn’t enough reason to spend this Saturday in the Park, families can also see live Zoo animals on the Prado and enjoy this wide assortment of other trickless treats and things to do:


  • Wildlife costume parade & creepy critters (Natural History Museum)
  • Create a spooky steam engine (Model Railroad Museum)
  • Scary art scavenger hunt (Mingei)
  • Make & fly alien-themed kites (Air & Space Museum)
  • Day of the Dead activities & spooky tour (Museum of Man)
  • Design and color ghost cars (Automotive Museum)
  • Face painting, makeup, and hat making (San Diego History Center)
  • Create colorful koi fish masks (Japanese Friendship Garden)
  • Creepy cockroaches, mutant flies, and pumpkin anatomy (Fleet Science Center)
  • Gallery games and treats for kids (San Diego Museum of Art)
  • Puppet show “Polka Dot Ghost” (Puppet Theater, 11am, 1 & 2:30pm)
  • Ghostly giggles storytelling (Timken Museum of Art, 11am)
  • Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes (UNA International Gift Shop)
  • Don authentic uniforms from historic wars (booth on the Prado)
  • Watch classical music rehearsals (Casa del Prado; 8:30am–6:30pm)
  • Safety coloring books, Lorax activity workbooks & treats (MTS booth on the Prado)
  • Learn about Energy Vampires (SDG&E booth on the Prado)
  • Free cider station & candy (SDMA Café by Giuseppe, while supplies last)
  • Register to win theater tickets and Balboa Park Passports (Balboa Park Visitors Center)


I hope I’m not forgetting something, but if I did (can you blame me?), the official Halloween Family Day web page has all you need to know and then some.

Posted in Festivals, Museums, Stuff to Do | add a comment

If you’ve been following this blog, then you know I’m a pretty big festival hound. And the bigger the festival, the better (I’m already drooling over the upcoming Balboa Park December Nights event). And not many festivals in Balboa Park, outside the aforementioned December Nights, get bigger than this Sunday’s Diwali Festival.


cosmos-blog_diwali-festival_sambandar-statue_sdmaWhat’s a Diwali Festival, you ask? It’s one of the most important holidays celebrated across the subcontinent of India, drawing on the traditions of three major religions and sprinkled with dozens of regional practices. Due to its cross-cultural nature, it is also celebrated in many other countries of the world, including the United States.


Locally, Balboa Park will be the site of perhaps the grandest Diwali celebration in the entire region, involving the two museums that are co-hosting it, the San Diego Museum of Art and the Mingei International Museum. In addition, a spectacular cultural performance will take place in the Organ Pavilion, where 1,008 lamps will be lit to culminate the evening’s festivities.


The October 24 event will get underway at 4:00pm with a colorful public procession down El Prado. Ticket holders will then have access to exhibitions and activities inside the two host museums as well as to the Alcazar Garden, which will be populated with musicians, dancers, henna artists, vendors, and of course, best of all, a broad sampling of howling good Indian cuisine.

Posted in Festivals | add a comment

cosmos-blog_morley-field-play-area-2While open grassy fields dotted with trees and shrubs are all I need in a playground, I understand that bipedal pups prefer a bit more variety. Luckily San Diego’s largest cultural and recreational playground features a number of areas that many Homeowners Associations like to call tot lots.


A while back I checked out the grand-daddy of all tot lots in Balboa Park, the Pepper Grove Discovery Playground. Located near the Park’s Central Mesa Area off of Park Boulevard, Pepper Grove teams with young critters during most weekends and school holidays. Fortunately, Balboa Park also offers a few other playground areas to help absorb some of the overflow.


For instance, the largest children’s play area on Balboa Park’s west side is situated near Sixth Ave. and Spruce Street. Recommended for ages 5 to 12, the playground includes two sets of swing sets, slides for all sizes, and colorful and sturdy things to climb.


Over on the east side of Balboa Park, Morley Field is home to one of the best kept secrets in children’s playground areas. That’s because this area’s play equipment is tucked behind the Bud Kearns Memorial Swimming Pool. Another lot for ages 5-12, this area presents a nice variety bars, swings, slides, and other climbable goodies.


Just a bone’s throw away from the Morley Field play area, Bird Park has its own little area for the toddler set (age 2-5). A tot lot in the truest sense, like all the others, it is surrounded with plenty of green grass for this pup to roll around in.

Posted in Sports and Recreation, Stuff to Do | add a comment
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