A colorful celebration of Hungary’s culture!

Hungarian folk dance on stage at the House of Hungary lawn program in Balboa Park.
Hungarian folk dance on stage at the House of Hungary lawn program in Balboa Park.

This afternoon I caught a bit of the House of Hungary’s lawn program at the International Cottages in Balboa Park.

While I didn’t sample any of the Hungarian food (having previously eaten a big lunch), I did feast my eyes and ears on Hungarian culture, including traditional music, singing, dance, costume, and even a short but fascinating talk about fashion, for which Hungary is historically famous.

This annual celebration takes place on or about August 20, a national holiday in Hungary that memorializes the first King of Hungary, King Stephen I. Stephen was canonized by the Catholic Church, and his feast day is celebrated on the same day.

The Karpatok Hungarian Dance Ensemble entertains the audience with a traditional bottle dance.
The Kárpátok Hungarian Dance Ensemble entertains the audience with a traditional bottle dance.
The proud flag of Hungary could be spotted here and there in the crowd.
The proud flag of Hungary could be spotted here and there in the crowd.
A fashion designer and beauty queens await their turn on stage as a young man sings a Hungarian folk song.
A fashion designer and beauty queens await their turn on stage as a young man sings a Hungarian folk song.
Hungarian food at the program included sausage sandwiches, crepes (palacsinta), fried dough (lángos) and authentic Hungarian pastries.
Hungarian food at the program included sausage sandwiches, crepes (palacsinta), fried dough (lángos) and authentic Hungarian pastries.
People enjoyed eating sweet Kürtőskalács, which is also known as chimney cake.
People enjoyed eating sweet Kürtőskalács, which is also referred to as chimney cake.
San Diego Continuing Education fashion instructor Tammie Pontsler talks about an award-winning dress she made for the Salk design challenge.
San Diego Continuing Education fashion instructor Tammie Pontsler talks about an award-winning dress she made for the Salk design challenge.
Violinist from the Lux Ensemble entertains everybody with happy Hungarian music.
Violinist from the Lux Ensemble entertains everybody with happy Hungarian music.
The culture of Hungary is celebrated in Balboa Park at the International Cottages!
The culture of Hungary is celebrated in Balboa Park at the International Cottages!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

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Historic tree, plaque removed from Balboa Park.

A historic tree that once stood at the center of Balboa Park's International Cottages has been cut down.
A historic tree that once stood at the center of Balboa Park’s International Cottages has been cut down.

I’m sure there must have been a good reason for the tree’s removal. Perhaps it had become unsafe.

According to a bronze plaque, the tree was planted near the center of Balboa Park’s International Cottages in 1932. The tree was dedicated in honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. That historic plaque is now gone, too.

Perhaps someone reading this knows the complete story. If you do, please leave a comment.

I’ve been told by several people from the cottages that one day, a few months ago, a crew from San Diego Parks and Recreation simply cut the big shady tree down. One person that I spoke to today couldn’t provide a specific reason, but thought the tree’s removal had been carefully considered. I do hope so.

Now the tree and its plaque are gone. Just an image in some old photographs . . . or a slowly fading memory . . .

A photo of the old shady tree as it once lived in Balboa Park. It was removed one day and now it's gone.
A photo of the shady tree as it once lived in Balboa Park. It was removed one fateful day and now it’s gone.
Someone stands on the stump of the tree during a lawn program at the International Cottages.
Someone stands on the stump of the tree during a recent lawn program at the International Cottages.
Shortly after the tree was cut down, the plaque still remained.
Shortly after the tree was cut down, the plaque still remained.
Dedicated in Honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, by the Womans Relief Corps Department of California and Nevada, May 16, 1932.
Dedicated in Honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, by the Woman’s Relief Corps Department of California and Nevada, May 16, 1932.
And now the plaque is gone, too. A bit of history vanishes.
And now the plaque and its words have been removed, too. A bit of San Diego history is gone.

I live in downtown San Diego. I do my best to keep my eyes wide open as I walk.

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International Children’s Day in Balboa Park.

Youth in Mexican costume file across the stage. Children from many nations participated in today's event at the International Cottages.
Youth in Mexican costume file across the stage. Children from many nations participated in today’s event at the International Cottages.

International Children’s Day was celebrated this afternoon at the International Cottages in Balboa Park. The event was hosted by the House of Turkey, the nation that inspired this special day. Kids representing many nations took part.

Prior to a series of youthful performances, I learned during the introductory speech that every year on April 23 Turkey celebrates Children’s Day, a holiday created by modern Turkey’s founder Atatürk. He recognized that children would inherit that newly independent nation’s future. As a reminder, during Children’s Day the Turkish President, Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and provincial governors all turn over their positions to children for that one day.

As this day has become more international, UNICEF now recognizes International Children’s Day.

Guys fill balloons prior to the start of a cultural event hosted in Balboa Park by the House of Turkey.
Guys fill balloons prior to the start of a cultural event hosted in Balboa Park by the House of Turkey.
Getting Turkish food ready, including tasty tantuni.
Getting Turkish food ready, including tasty tantuni.
Lots of smiles as hungry people start to line up.
Lots of smiles as hungry people start to line up.
Kids cross the lawn, almost ready to perform on stage.
Kids cross the lawn, almost ready to perform on stage.
Young performers in Turkish costume on stage during the House of Turkey's lawn program, celebrating International Children's Day.
Young performers in Turkish costume on stage during the House of Turkey’s lawn program, celebrating International Children’s Day.
A clown in the audience provided innocent laughs!
A clown in the audience provided innocent laughs!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

A visit inside the House of Scotland’s cottage.

People visit the House of Scotland's cottage in Balboa Park.
People visit the House of Scotland’s picturesque cottage in Balboa Park.

When I walk in Balboa Park, I usually pass through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. Inside these quaint cottages, the cultures of diverse nations are proudly on display, and world history comes to life. There is much for visitors to learn and discover.

At the International Cottages, “Houses” representing different nations all coexist peacefully. If only the world could be that way.

Recently I poked my nose into the cottage operated by the House of Scotland. Scottish culture and history have always fascinated me.

I took a few photos…

A plaque by the cottage's flagpole reads: In Memory of L/CPL Kenneth J. Haywood U.S.M.C. 1943 - 1965 Member of The House of Scotland House of Pacific Relations
A plaque by the cottage’s flagpole reads: In Memory of L/CPL Kenneth J. Haywood U.S.M.C. 1943 – 1965 Member of The House of Scotland House of Pacific Relations.
Inside the House of Scotland cottage there are fascinating photographs, artifacts and cultural displays.
Inside the House of Scotland’s small cottage there are fascinating photographs, artifacts and cultural displays.
A doll wearing a Scottish kilt, and a certificate that commemorates the 2010 San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans. The annual event takes place in Vista.
A doll wearing a Scottish kilt, and a certificate that commemorates the 2010 San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans. The annual event takes place in Brengle Terrace Park in Vista.
Bagpipes and a badge worn by a drummer of the House of Scotland Junior Pipe Band.
Bagpipes and a badge worn by a drummer of the House of Scotland Junior Pipe Band. The House of Scotland Pipe Band is well known in San Diego and performs many rousing concerts.
Diagram shows the costume of the widely recognized Dewar’s Scotch Highlander, including bonnet, gold sash, kilt, plaid, drum major’s baton and sword.
Diagram shows the costume of the widely recognized Dewar’s Scotch Highlander, including bonnet, gold sash, kilt, plaid, drum major’s baton and sword.
All sorts of interesting items on display in the cottage provide a small taste of Scotland in San Diego.
All sorts of interesting items on display inside the cottage provide a small taste of Scotland.
Many famous verses by the national poet of Scotland Robert Burns.
Famous verses by the national poet of Scotland Robert Burns.
An article describes tossing the caber at Highland Games. The origins of this unusual event is unknown. A heavy pole is flipped, with the aim that it lands straight.
An article describes tossing the caber at Highland Games. The exact origin of this unusual event is uncertain. A heavy pole is flipped, with the aim that it lands straight.
The coat of arms of two different clans. Scotland comes to life inside one of the International Cottages in Balboa Park.
The coat of arms of two different clans. Scotland comes to life inside one of the International Cottages in Balboa Park.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Murals by young artivist on United Nations Building.

One of four murals by young artist Caymin Ellspermann on the United Nations Building in Balboa Park.
One of four murals by young “artivist” Caymin Ellspermann on the United Nations Building in Balboa Park.

Four new murals were hung on the exterior of the United Nations Building in Balboa Park a couple days ago. I spotted them yesterday as I walked through the International Cottages.

The murals were all painted by Caymin Ellspermann, who is a talented sixteen-year-old Peace Paint Ambassador with the global UNA USA San Diego’s Art Miles Mural Project. Themes expressed in these artivist murals range from feeding the hungry to protecting wildlife.

Caymin is available for art commissions. To reach him, read the information on the sign containing his biography. (You can click the following photo to enlarge it.)

Caymin Ellspermann is a Peace Paint Ambassador with the global UNA USA San Diego's Art Miles Mural Project. He is an artivist interested in social and environmental issues.
Caymin Ellspermann is a Peace Paint Ambassador with the global UNA USA San Diego’s Art Miles Mural Project. He is an artivist interested in social and environmental issues.
A new mural near the front entrance of the United Nations Building among the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
A new mural near the front entrance of the United Nations Building among the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
A beautiful mural shows a Native American and wildlife.
A beautiful mural shows a Native American and wildlife.
A colorful mural shows people holding hands, with abundant life and food.
A fantastic, colorful mural shows people holding hands, with abundant life and food.
A mural speaks out against hunting protected wild animals in Africa.
A mural speaks out against hunting protected wild animals in Africa.

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Beautiful hearts appear before Valentine’s Day!

A lustrous red ceramic heart, created by Pierre Bounaud of Studio 40 at Spanish Village Art Center.
A lustrous red ceramic heart, created by Pierre Bounaud of Studio 40 at Spanish Village Art Center.

Look at all the beautiful hearts I spotted while walking about Balboa Park this afternoon . . . and scenes containing heart!

Valentine’s Day is only three days away!

Amber and larimar earring hearts for sale at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and Village Silversmith's store.
Amber and larimar heart-shaped earrings for sale at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and Village Silversmith’s store.
A fun heart dangles in front of Spanish Village's Studio 13.
A fun heart dangles in front of Spanish Village’s Studio 13.
Old-fashioned lovers sit together in a graphic on the historic Balboa Park Carousel.
Old-fashioned lovers sit together in a graphic on the historic Balboa Park Carousel.
A wrapped heart treat in a display case inside the House of Czech and Slovak Republics.
A wrapped heart treat in a display case inside the House of Czech and Slovak Republics, at the International Cottages.
More hearts on glassware (and a cannon!) inside the House of Sweden.
More hearts on glassware inside the House of Sweden.
A beautiful fabric heart inside the House of Hungry's exhibit inside Balboa Park's Hall of Nations building.
A beautiful fabric heart, part of the House of Hungry’s exhibit inside the Hall of Nations.
Two lovers tango on a book cover in the Helen Edison Gift Shop at the Old Globe Theatre.
A couple tangos on a wall calendar in the Helen Edison Gift Shop at the Old Globe Theatre.
International Dance Festival participants twirl on the sidewalk in front of the Balboa Park Club.
International Dance Festival participants twirl on the sidewalk in front of the Balboa Park Club.
Jewelry boxes shaped like hearts on sale inside the Balboa Park Club during the International Dance Festival.
Jewelry boxes shaped like hearts for sale inside the Balboa Park Club during the International Dance Festival.
I also spotted these red heart-patterned fabrics for sale at the festival.
I also spotted some heart-patterned fabrics for sale at the festival.
Local artist Jean Pierre Marques had these colorful hearts for sale near the International Cottages. Valentine's Day is almost here!
Local artist Jean Pierre Marques had these colorful painted hearts for sale near the International Cottages. Valentine’s Day is almost here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Dance and culture by the House of Spain.

Flamenco dancing during the House of Spain lawn program in Balboa Park.
Flamenco dancing during the House of Spain’s lawn program in Balboa Park.

Today the House of Spain in Balboa Park hosted the lawn program at the International Cottages. The cultural event featured music, folk dancing, tasty food and many welcoming smiles. Flamenco dancers strutted and whirled on the stage, adding life to an already wonderful day in the park.

Here are some photos…

Getting a big pan of tasty paella ready. I had some and it was really good.
A big pan of tasty paella. I had some and it was really good.
Many flowers and interesting exhibits can be seen inside the House of Spain's cottage.
Many flowers and interesting exhibits can be seen inside the House of Spain’s cottage.
A model of a Spanish galleon, very much like the one Cabrillo sailed in when he discovered San Diego Bay in 1542.
A model of a Spanish galleon, much like the one Cabrillo sailed in when he discovered San Diego Bay in 1542.
Art on the wall shows a bird's-eye view of Fort Guijarros. The old Spanish fort was built in 1797 on Ballast Point where it guarded San Diego Bay.
Art on the wall shows a bird’s-eye view of Fort Guijarros. The old Spanish fort was built in 1797 on Ballast Point where it guarded San Diego Bay.
Beautiful ceramic artwork on display inside the House of Spain's cottage in Balboa Park.
Beautiful ceramic artwork on display inside the House of Spain’s cottage in Balboa Park.
The featured entertainment during the cultural event was Spanish folk dancing.
The featured entertainment during the cultural event was Spanish folk dancing.
A dance of fuego--fire. This powerful, very expressive dance mesmerized those watching in the audience.
A dance of fuego–fire. This powerful, very expressive dance mesmerized those watching in the audience.
Fluidity and passion.
Fluidity and passion.
A colorful whirl of life.
A colorful whirl of life.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!