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A Window Into Lively California History

Presidio of San Francisco

National Park News

Hundreds of visitors, including community childrens groups, families, and history enthusiasts, gathered in San Francisco over three days in late June for the annual Pasados del Presidio event, an immersion into California’s rich past.

Hosted by the Presidio Trust in partnership with the National Park Service, the three-day festivities included performers, living history volunteers, traditional life ways educators, and area organizations who presented activities and concerts that engaged visitors of all ages in a first-hand experience of history. 

This year’s events concluded with a commemoration of the founding of San Francisco in 1776, when an expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza brought nearly 300 Spanish men, women, and children over 1,800 miles to build a new settlement in Alta California.  The National Park Service manages the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, the route they followed on their journey.  The Anza Trail and the Presidio site interpret not only the achievements of the Anza Expedition, but also the diversity of its members, the role that Native Americans played in its success, and the cultures of native peoples both before and after Spanish colonization.

The Pasados del Presidio weekend provided a range of fun activities, concerts, and programs that reflected these many layers of California history.  Visitors explored the culture and music of early California, learned stories of Bay Area Indians, and experienced California rancho life with adobe brick-making, pottery, tortilla-making, and crafts.  Children donned the outfits of Spanish soldiers and settlers, and embarked on expeditions commanded by volunteer re-enactors, pausing to inspect horses tended by costumed riders.  Both Anza and Father Junipero Serra, founder of the chain of missions in Alta California, were present throughout the festivities, and engaged in a spirited and enlightening conversation about Spanish colonial life.  Musicians and dancers presented interactive children’s programs and two evening “Fandangos,” or concerts, enhancing the air of immersion in times past.

The children’s activities drew over 500 participants in community and family groups, and many more visitors attended the concerts and other lively events throughout this celebration of the complex history of California and the San Francisco Presidio.


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