San Gabriel – TOWN TWEETS

By Joe Castillo
September 12, 2012 • 458 views

Happy Birthday  … San Gabriel Mission celebrated its 241st birthday with a grand Fiesta on the grounds of the 100-year old Mission Elementary School.  I grew up going to the Fiesta and I couldn’t help but recalling the previous times I had at the Fiesta so I thought I’d take a trip back to the 60’s and compare it with this years’ Fiesta.  The location was the same location as in previous years, the playground of Mission Elementary which was founded in 1912. There was a different configuration of booths in the 60’s and today but overall the food and game booths were still in the approximate place. Rides were located between the elementary and high school areas with the entertainment stage in the courtyard zone. This year’s entertainment included Ballet Folklorico much like 50 years ago, but the other entertainment was more recent music like Ostia, which played a very distinctive Latin jazz sound. One throwback act were the sounds of the StoryTellers and the In-Crowd, a combined group of local musicians who played music back to the 60’s when they first started performing. The highlight of Saturday evening was the appearance of Mickey Lespron, guitarist with ‘El Chicano’, who played a perfect rendition of the hit song ‘Viva Tirado’. Lespron graduated from Mission Elementary and first recorded ‘Viva Tirado’, a tribute to Mexican bullfighter Jose Ramon Tirado, back in 1969. The food booth had the usual hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, Mexican food and desserts but also had Central American, Pilipino, Pastrami, and Pizza which I’m not sure was served in the past. The prices were very reasonable and long lines were seen at most of the booths in the evening hours. The game booths included the usual assortment of carnival games including the Duck Toss Pond, Glass Pitch, Spill the Milk Bottles, Ping Pong Toss, Balloon Dart Throw and the Basketball Shot.  I couldn’t bring myself to play the games this year because all I remember is that I had a whole set of dishes and an aquarium collection of gold fish from years past at the Fiesta. Bingo was played in the Mission center and it seems like decades when I last played it. I lost $9 for a chance to win a jackpot which was as high as $26. I’ve never had much luck at gambling but when you can’t win at Bingo its time to find another source of entertainment. And the last venue was the always exciting rides, which looked like they were the same rides as the 1960’s. There was the Himalaya Roller Coater, The Chicago Loop, The Zipper and the Super Slide, which is the only ride I remember from the 60’s. The rides were sparsely being used but at a cost of 4 tickets equaling 4 dollars it’s no wonder that not many kids were riding the 2 minutes of excitement. Or perhaps it was the ‘Ride at Your Own Risk’ signs which were posted on every ride. It’s been a week since the Fiesta closed, and I guess I didn’t win the $10,000 Grand Prize because I didn’t get a call yet. Oh well, just like the old days again……

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