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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

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!

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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!

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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).

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Walking on four paws in a bi-pedal/opposable-thumbs world, I’ve learned to be quite resourceful. Necessity does become the mother of invention when dog food is sealed in tin cans and placed on top of the refrigerator. This is why I feel a special kinship with the dozens of DIY inventors who will make this weekend’s Maker Faire this fall’s signature Balboa Park Centennial event.

On Saturday and Sunday, October 3 and 4, from 10am to 6pm, I’ll have a chance to sniff out some of the most cutting-edge contraptions other resourceful folks who make full use of their opposable thumbs have devised in the comfort of their own garages, basements, and backyards (which, by the way, is where I do some of my best work).

Approximately 200 interactive exhibits will be on display that allow everyone in your pack to learn from playing, making, and doing. A number of booths will be set up in Balboa Park’s favorite gathering spot, the Plaza de Panama, with many others in the Pan American Plaza and Palisades area (by the big fountain).

Among the highlights will be my good friend Russell, the 17-foot-tall electrical giraffe; robots that walk, roll, and fly; 3-D printers that create insta-chew toys; yummy cupcake cars; and unique crafts that blend science and art.

Tickets to the Maker Faire include admission to 10 participating Balboa Park museums that will also feature Maker exhibits in and around their buildings. Lucky dogs in possession of an annual Balboa Park Explorer Pass already have the only ticket they need to both days of the Maker Faire. (Pro tip: if you were planning on buying tickets for two adults and at least two pups for both days of the Maker Faire, you are already half-way toward buying an annual Family Pass that will be valid through next September).

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Taste of Asia Festival 2015, Chinese dancersWhether you’ve been digging all the free entertainment for the Balboa Park Centennial this year or have yet to dig out of your hibernation hole and check it out, I’m happy to report there’s still more to come. The fall season is not missing a beat with three FREE music and dance programs in the coming week alone!

La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Presents “Sila: Breath of the World”
Sept. 27, 3pm

Take a once-in-a-lifetime stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden as dozens of musicians and vocalists create a site-specific musical experience. But don’t stop to sniff the flowers too long, as each location in the garden offers a new perspective on the music being performed and how it relates to the garden’s visual scenery.

Taste of Asia/Moon Festival
Sept. 26, noon-5pm; Sept 27, noon-8:30pm

Bring your favorite four-legged friend (hint, hint) to the International Cottages for a two-day cultural extravaganza, featuring music, dance, costumes, crafts, and food (did I mention food?) of over a half-dozen Asian cultures. The event is so big, it will spill out into the Organ Pavilion on Sunday evening for a Chinese Moon Festival and fireworks display.

San Diego Civic Dance Arts Free Night of Dance Theatre
Oct. 2, 8pm

Watch professionally trained performers dance circles around the so-called “celebrity” dancers from this season’s Dancing with the Stars TV show. San Diego Civic Dance Arts will present selections from the Centennial-inspired and acclaimed Collage 2015 “Innovation” performance, complete with breathtaking costumes, imaginative set pieces, and gorgeous theatrical lighting, in the historic Casa del Prado Theater.

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