Cabrillo Festival San Diego
Set high on the Peninsula of Point Loma, the statues of Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo overseas the entrance to San Diego Bay and Ballast Point the historical location where Cabrillo landed. Sculpted by the Portuguese artist Alvaro de Bré, the original weather beaten sandstone statue, was replaced in 1988 by a replica authored by the Portuguese sculptor Charters de Almeida.
In 1964, Cabrillo Festival was formed by the Jr. Chamber of Commerce and latter the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, the Portuguese American Social and Civic Club in collaboration with Cabrillo National Monument and the Portuguese community at large. The Cabrillo Club #16 was to join latter and became a co-sponsor of the Cabrillo Banquet.
This new organization was formed to commemorate and perpetuate the voyage of discovery by the Portuguese explorer at the service of Spain; Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo who was the first European to reach what is now the West Coast of the United States.
Annually, Cabrillo Festival brings together the official representatives of Mexico, Portugal, Spain and the United States as well as local Native American Groups.
The Festival is supported financially in part, by the County, City and Port of San Diego as well as entities from Portugal. The Festival’s organizing committee with the cooperation of the community at large and the Casa de España organize additional fundraising.
The Portuguese Navy is also one of the major supporters of Cabrillo Festival. Tradition dictates that the Portuguese Navy Chief of Staff is the High Commissioner from Cabrillo Festival to the Government of Portugal.
From the Cabrillo Festival’s inception, the Portuguese community has been the backbone of the organization. With its dynamic support, Cabrillo Festival grew, and is recognized as the premier multicultural and multinational festival in California.
In the mid 1978’s the committee invited the Spanish community in San Diego, to actively participate and support the Cabrillo Festival. In the late 1980’s the Native American Community became an integral part of the Festival.
At the suggestion of members of the Portuguese Community, in 1976, an “Arraial” was organized, first at the Portuguese Hall and later was transformed into the “Open House” event at Cabrillo National Monument.
The weeklong Annual Cabrillo Festival’s main activies are the re-enactment of Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo’s landing in San Diego Bay, the Cabrillo Banquet, the cultural, culinary, and the living history events as well as the visits of the Cabrillo personage and Miss Cabrillo Festival to the City Council, Board of Supervisors, Port District and the San Diego Unified School District. For the last two years, the public events have been held at the Submarine Base In Point Loma.
The influence of the Portuguese community in Cabrillo Festival is best exemplified by the leadership of members of the community, especially, Mary Rosa Giglitto, President Emeritus and the force behind the success of Cabrillo Festival as well as by several past presidents of the festival. Additionally, Miss Cabrillo Festival and the personage of Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo are members of the Portuguese community.
Special mention must be made of the support and collaboration that exists between Cabrillo Festival the National Park Service, and the Superintendent and Staff of Cabrillo National Monument.
José Maurício Lomelino Alves
In (Capelinhos - A Volcano of Synergies - Azorian Immigration to America)