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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Russell the electric talking giraffe at Balboa Park STEAM Family DayOkay, I know I can be like a dog with a bone when it comes to repeatedly announcing Balboa Park’s Centennial Celebrations are officially here. But please indulge me because not only does the STEAM Family Day on Sunday, March 15, mark the first major park-wide event of 2015, it also means Balboa Park’s Centennial Celebrations are officially here!

Now that I’ve said it (perhaps for the last time), let’s consider what makes this year’s installment of the annual spring Family Day a truly epic celebration of the 1915 Exposition’s 100-year anniversary.

  • A humongous assortment of fun STEAM* activities for families presented by over 30 Balboa Park and community organizations, including official Family Day sponsors Time Warner Cable and Whole Foods Market and transportation partner MTS.
  • Dozens of free activity booths and demos — that pups won’t even realize are educational — set up along the Prado walkway. Can you say quadcopters?
  • A personal appearance by my friend Russell, the 11-foot talking giraffe, who will be joined by many other innovative Maker exhibits throughout the Park. A giant talking giraffe!
  • Free admission for everyone in your litter age 12 and under with paid adult at participating museums, many featuring Centennial-themed exhibitions like the working scale model of the Panama Canal at the San Diego History Center.
  • Frank Favela, host of the colorful Spanish-language kids TV program Zona de Escape, presenting cool games and experiments.
  • Free children’s concert (2pm) and activities throughout the day in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Those are just a few choice highlights to chew on — while I go chew on my post-second breakfast late-morning snack. For the complete list of STEAM Family Day programs, activities, exhibits, and events, visit

*STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math

Posted in Festivals | add a comment

Is it my imagination or does daylight savings time begin earlier with each passing year? While most of my friends are still hibernating, my bipedal readers will be losing an hour of precious sleep this Saturday night. Since I can pretty much sleep whenever I’m not exploring Balboa Park, blogging, or of course eating, I feel it is my duty to alert folks to five things in Balboa Park they don’t want to be late for this Sunday, March 8.

10th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

Though the Japanese Friendship Garden’s annual rite of spring opens on Saturday (March 7), Sunday’s hours are only 11am to 3pm, giving you that much less time to enjoy picnicking under 150 fragrant cherry trees, crafting, enjoying a variety of cultural entertainment, and chowing on authentic Japanese street foods.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Puppet Show

Caterpillars are no different from my hibernating friends when they wake up from their long sleep and emerge from their cocoon: they need to eat — a lot! Your preschool-aged pups will never forgive you if you oversleep (again) and miss this Sunday’s audience-participation puppet show at 11am, 1pm, and 2:30pm at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion Concert

If you think these weekly concerts are the same every week and it doesn’t hurt to snooze through one, think again. This week’s 2pm performance brings back Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton who, along with mezzo-soprano accompanist Colette Thomas, will present such howling-good standards as “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” and “I Got Rhythm.”

House of Austria Lawn Program

Lawn Programs are back! The weekly multicultural smorgasbords that don’t discriminate based on pedigree (i.e., all dogs are welcome!) return for their March through October run of over 30 different cultural festivals, each starting at 2pm on Sunday afternoon. Trust me — the House of Austria’s Sachertorte (a dense chocolate cake) is worth losing sleep over.

Ranger-Led Park Tour

You’ll definitely need to set your alarm for this 11am tour. If you haven’t gone on a ranger-led tour of Balboa Park in a while, if ever, there is no better time than during this Centennial Celebration year. You can learn everything you need to know about the Park’s rich history while there’s still plenty of time to take in many of the special activities planned for the year. Not to mention, this pet-friendly tour can also double as your morning dog-walking duty.

Posted in Stuff to Do | add a comment

Humback Whales, mother and calf, IMAX film, Reuben H. Fleet Science CenterBiologically speaking, there are very few creatures in the animal kingdom that can actually sing, partly because for some reason the vocalizations that dogs and wolves make are incorrectly termed “howling.” Such is not the case for the seafaring humpback whale. Not only are these majestic creatures the largest mammals on the planet, but they are among the world’s most widely recorded singers who don’t collect royalty checks.

Since it’s impractical to hear them live in concert, a new IMAX film at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, appropriately titled Humpback Whales, enables audiences to see these prolific chanteurs up close in a life-size format.

Narrated by my favorite Jedi, Ewan McGregor, the immersive film follows humpback whales on their annual 6,000-plus mile round-trip journey, displaying not only their singing talents, but also revealing in rare footage how they feed, play, and take care of their pups.

In one unique behavior captured live on film, called bubble netting, the whales co-operatively trap a school of fish in a tunnel of air bubbles, signal to the others through “singing,” and then simultaneously swim up for the feeding frenzy. Now that’s what I call singing for your super! (though I personally find begging a much more effective means for getting a mouthful of fresh seafood.)

In addition to playing an important role in their feeding, playing, and mating habits, singing was largely responsible for bringing humpback whales back from the brink of extinction over 40 years ago. Beginning in 1970, the first recordings of their singing brought increased awareness to their plight and laid the foundation for an environmental movement to save the whales, making this IMAX film a tail-wagging feel-good story.

Posted in Museums | add a comment

ZsaZsa writes: Cosmos darling, while I’m sure my family is utterly delighted about the upcoming STEAM Family Day on March 15; that’s only one day. What’s the good word on other planned activities in Balboa Park for 2015 that are equally pup friendly?

Cosmos: Putting on my Nostracosmos cap and peering into my crystal water bowl, I see that 100 years from now people will be living well into their 100s. This means today’s pups will be in a position to share fond memories of the 2015 Centennial with San Diego History Center archivists when Balboa Park celebrates its 200-year anniversary.

Fortunately, a blockbuster Family Day isn’t the only memorable event designed specifically for kids this year in Balboa Park. In fact, since you obviously haven’t been reading my blog for the past month, I should point out several of them are already underway, with more to come.

2theXtreme—MathAlive2San Diego Air & Space Museum (thru Sept. 13, 2015): Budding engineers will gladly lap up the importance of multiplication tables and long division once they learn how they relate to creating video games, snowboarding, controlling an interplanetary rover, rock-climbing, and other fun interactive experiences.

The Ingenious Dr. Seuss San Diego History Center (thru Dec. 31, 2015): The animal-loving author of dozens of children’s books, Dr. Seuss, is brought to life through his rare early works, whimsical illustrations and sculptures, and pack-friendly interactive exhibits and special celebrity readings.

Coast to CactusSan Diego Natural History Museum (permanent exhibition): Pack leaders can let their litter run wild through seven immersive environments that reveal the wide diversity of creatures and plants inhabiting our extended backyard of San Diego County through multimedia interactives and live animal exhibits.

Circus: Science Under the Big TopReuben H. Fleet Science Center (May 23 – Sept. 7, 2015): Youngsters can run away and join the circus without actually running away as they learn the science behind juggling, tightrope walking, sword swallowing, animal communication, and other amazing feats.

In addition to major museum exhibitions, various special performing arts events throughout the year — courtesy of San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, and the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater — promise to keep young rumps glued to their seats and howling for more.

Posted in Ask Cosmos | add a comment

If you’ve followed this blog, you know that when I dig someone or something, I make no bones about it. So being Valentine’s Day weekend this Saturday and Sunday makes it that much easier for me to express my love for Dr. Carol Williams and her annual Bark in the Park event this Sunday at 2pm in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

What’s not to love when scores of pet lovers and their four-legged friends assemble for a free animal-themed organ concert? And if you happen to be looking for puppy love this weekend, what better way to meet that special “Must Love Dogs” friend? Or better yet, you can fall in love with one of the many pooches and kitties on hand for adoption, courtesy of the San Diego Humane Society.

For those in a new relationship, Bark in the Park is also the perfect opportunity to show off your love for all creatures great and small, as proceeds from donations go to support the Humane Society’s pet-protection and adoption programs.

For pet owners in a long-term relationship, Bark in the Park presents an ideal chance to reaffirm your commitment to your family and pack when attendees are invited to participate in the much-anticipated Pets and People Parade. Your significant other will fall in love with you all over again as you confidently prance across the Organ Pavilion stage, displaying the family pooch for all the world to see, keeping in mind all organ concert events are streamed live globally on Ustream.

Posted in Concerts and Events | add a comment
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