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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Since the start of 2015, I have personally witnessed an unprecedented number of dog-friendly activities throughout Balboa Park in celebration of the Centennial. Last April, there were even tours and tree plantings centered on Arbor Day. But this takes the cake. On November 3, volunteers began planting the first of the 100 trees donated by the San Diego Foundation to mark 40 years of the Foundation’s support for the Park.

Planting of tree near Sixth Avenue playground in Balboa ParkFrom a canine perspective, adding 100 trees to Balboa Park is the equivalent of building a new museum or performing arts hall. But that’s not to say only four-legged visitors to the Park will benefit. The new trees will be strategically planted in public areas on the park’s west mesa in need of reforestation, including the Sixth Avenue playground area (where planting started), the Trees for Health Garden, the Nutmeg Street restroom area, and near the Campfire USA entrance.

With average local temperatures and sunny days on the rise, families will be able to enjoy the additional shade provided by the new drought-tolerant varieties of pine, including San Diego’s unique Torrey Pine, olive, oak, cedar, cypress, and palm trees.

These water-wise trees donated by the San Diego Foundation were raised in Balboa Park’s own nursery, so they are already well adapted to our climate and growing conditions. A sophisticated new water-saving irrigation system will ensure the trees’ health and longevity without tapping out our region’s limited resources.

Over the next year, all the new trees should be in place, offering ample new sights and sniffs and ideal picnicking spots for pack leaders and their pups along Sixth Avenue.

Posted in Fun Botanical Stuff | add a comment

Once in a blue moon, the constellation Canis Major and the Dog Star align perfectly with Canis Minor, the result being that the annual Balboa Park Halloween Family Day actually falls on Halloween Day (October 31, just to be clear).

Balboa Park Halloween Family Day, kid wearing solar system costumeWhat this means for San Diego-area pups is they now have the perfect excuse to put on their trick-or-treating costumes the moment they get up on Halloween morning! Not only is a Halloween Family Day simply more fun when dressed up in costume, but there will be prizes for best costume, costume parades, trick-or-treating at the Spanish Village and International Cottages, and plenty of photo ops for pack leaders throughout the day.

From 11am to 4pm, dozens of Balboa Park cultural institutions and community partners will offer free hands-on crafts and creepy demonstrations in the Plaza de Panama and Prado walkway. Highlights include mini-carnival games and costume contests for prizes hosted by San Diego Park and Rec, a “Thriller” flash mob in the Plaza, and live animals from the San Diego Zoo.

In addition to the many free activities, families can save even more bones by taking advantage of free admission for kids 12 and under at participating museums with a paid adult. A dozen museums will be presenting a wide range of Halloween-themed crafts, treasure hunts, and spooky tours of their galleries.

Not to be left out of the day’s festivities, pooches can participate in and watch the annual doggie costume contest in the Spanish Village, get their photo taken in the Fab Trailers photo booth, and enjoy fresh treats at the Tacos la Mezcla and Simply Fresh gourmet food trucks in the Plaza.

To dig up even more details on all the Halloween Family Day activities, visit

Posted in Festivals | add a comment

Maddie writes: Dear Cosmos, I have to admit, I’m a little worn out trying to keep up with all the Balboa Park Centennial events. When will the special activities for 2015 end and we go back to our regularly scheduled programming — and I can get back to my regularly scheduled naps?

Cosmos writes: I’m not going to lie, this is no time to let sleeping dogs lie! Yes, this year’s schedule has been hectic, but now that we are in the home stretch, you really don’t want to roll over and play dead. The fall season is bringing a whole new slate of Centennial-themed programs to Balboa Park. Here are just a few highlights 

Bonus Round of Major Museum Exhibitions

It’s beginning to feel like summer again, and I’m not referring to unseasonably warm temperatures in San Diego. Within the past month, Balboa Park museums have opened a number of “main-gallery” exhibitions, including Imaginate at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Da Vinci: The Ultimate Inventor at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, The Art of Music at The San Diego Museum of Art, and Balboa Park, the Future at the San Diego Automotive Museum, that highlight themes of the Centennial.

Another Centennial-Worthy Family Day

It’s not your imagination, the Balboa Park Family Days are getting bigger and better, and the Halloween Day Family Day on October 31 is no exception. This fall’s spooktacular family extravaganza will feature dozens of free paws-on activities on the Prado walkway and in the Plaza, the annual doggie costume contest in the Spanish Village, more interactive fun for kids at participating museums (which are offering free admission to pups 12 and under with a paid adult), and for the first time at a Family Day, gourmet food trucks!

Kate Sessions Birthday Bash

Hard to believe but, along with the Park itself, the Mother of Balboa Park, Kate Sessions, has gotten another year older. (I could swear that statue of her in Sefton Plaza hasn’t aged a day!) To celebrate Kate’s 158th birthday, a free family event at the Hall of Champions will feature the incomparable Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra, period costumes, dance competitions with prizes, and of course birthday cake!

Stay tuned to this doggie blogspace for information on special holiday-themed Centennial events that will round out 2015!

Posted in Ask Cosmos | add a comment

If you dig spectacular park-wide festivals, and the ample treats they bring, as much as I do, then you’ll be happy to know that this month’s run of big weekend events in Balboa Park continues this Saturday, October 17, with the eighth annual Diwali Festival of Lights.

Presented by two park museums and the San Diego American Indian Society, Balboa Park’s Diwali Festival has quickly grown to become the main Diwali celebration for the region. Beginning at 3pm, thousands of tail-wagging attendees can feast on food from various regions of India, watch and participate in folk dance performances, browse items for sale by a wide range of vendors, get a henna tattoo, and enjoy traditional music and colorful costumes.

The biggest annual festival in India, Diwali celebrates the triumph of truth over darkness, which is symbolized by the lighting of lamps. Its universal message, shared by various religious traditions across India, makes Diwali the perfect holiday to bring together all packs regardless of breed or creed.

Tickets to the Diwali Festival are only five bones for adults and free for pups, and they include admission to The San Diego Museum of Art and the Mingei International Museum, which feature top-dog collections of Indian art and other Diwali-themed programs. The evening’s activities culminate in a procession through the Park’s Central Mesa area of 1,008 lights, starting at 6pm, and performances in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, concluding with a DJ-spun dance party where you-know-who will be woofing it up!

Posted in Festivals | add a comment

I don’t need to tell pack leaders that raising kids is expensive. By the time their pups graduate from obedience school and head off to college, middle-income parents will have spent an average of nearly $250,000 for a child born in 2013, according to recent government estimates.

A quarter of a million dollars for just one kid!

It’s now more important than ever to save a few bones whenever possible. I know something that can help: over 40 museums in San Diego, including 12 in Balboa Park, are offering free admission to pups 12 and under during the month of October with each paid adult.

Now in its fifth year, the San Diego Museum Council’s Kids Free in October is the perfect opportunity for families to expose their litter to some of the best family-friendly cultural entertainment in San Diego as well as a number of special exhibitions planned especially for the Balboa Park Centennial.

Participating Balboa Park museums include

Japanese Friendship Garden
Marston House
Mingei International
Museum of Photographic Arts
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego History Center
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
San Diego Natural History Museum
The San Diego Museum of Art
Timken Museum of Art
Veterans Museum at Balboa Park

Here’s the catch (there’s always a catch): visit the San Diego Museum Council’s website to download a special coupon (good for up to two children per adult). Each museum requires its own coupon, so print out a ream of them if you need to.

If you prefer to save a tree, most museums are granting free admission for children 12 and under (with paid adult) without a coupon during Balboa Park’s Halloween Family Day on Saturday, October 31. There will also be dozens of free hands-on activities and crafts throughout the Park that day (more info to come in a future blog post).

Posted in Museums | add a comment
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