San Clemente Summer '85, a monthlong series of outdoor festivities, gets under way Saturday when the seaside city presents its annual Summer Fiesta. Other festival highlights will include the annual La Cristianita Pageant and the Ocean Festival.
The four-hour fiesta, sponsored by the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, kicks off Saturday at 6 p.m. along the 100 block of Avenida Del Mar. More than 1,000 tickets have been sold for the "good, old-fashioned street dance affair," according to Jack Stubbs, who is co-chairing the event.
Entertainment will include a 15-piece dance band, a barber-shop quartet, cloggers, square dancers and strolling musicians. A variety of foods will be provided by local restaurants. Tickets are $4; and must be purchased in advance from the Chamber of Commerce.
The annual Fiesta Carnival follows Friday, July 19, (5 p.m. to midnight) and July 20-21 (11 a.m. to midnight) at Plaza Park, and will feature rides, games, music and entertainment. Also on tap July 20 is the Fiesta Parade. The procession of floats, bands and equestrian groups, headed by grand marshals Mickey and Minnie Mouse, will begin at 10 a.m. at the corner of Ola Vista and Avenida Del Mar.
The most elaborate event of the festival will be the annual La Cristianita Pageant, "The Cross and the Sword," to be staged July 25-28 and July 31-Aug. 4 at 8:30 p.m. at the pageant's new permanent site, the La Cristianita Bowl. The outdoor drama will be accompanied for the first time by the Capistrano Valley Symphony, directed by San Clemente resident Donn Laurence Mills.
Maurice Hansen, president of the nonprofit La Cristianita Pageant Assn., said this year's production will be more elaborate than previous efforts. Production costs are expected to jump from last year's $25,000--attended by more than 3,200 people--to $50,000, Hansen said. A two-hour musical score has been written especially for this year's presentation by Mills.
The La Cristianita Bowl, 60 acres of undeveloped land donated to the Pageant Assn. by Estrella Properties Ltd. in Dec. 1984, is a natural canyon setting in the hills of San Clemente. (The Pageant Assn. is now trying to raise $2 million to build a 2,500 seat amphitheater on the site, Hansen said.) The proposed arena will also be used for dramatic and musical performances.
"The Cross and the Sword," originally a 45-minute drama written by Jenniebelle Bartlett, was first staged on the lawn of the San Clemente Community Center in 1954 along with a parade and carnival, which established San Clemente's summer fiesta tradition.
The historical drama, taken from the diaries of Spaniards Don Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra, tells the tale of the first Christian baptism of a Juaneno Indian in San Clemente during the expedition through California in 1769.
Directed by Kathy Van Kampen, the two-hour play uses a volunteer cast and historically correct costumes and props. Tickets are $10, plus $5 for the buffet dinner, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Bowl.
Wrapping up San Clemente Summer '85 is the three-day Ocean Festival to be held July 26-28 on the main beach at the San Clemente Pier.
Called the "Greatest Show on Surf," the nine-year-old festival has grown from its modest beginning--a selection of games played on the beach--to a series of aquatic events for lifeguards and sports enthusiasts as well as activities involving community participation.
The event will include lifeguard championships July 26 and 27 and Surf-n-Sand Family Olympics July 28, and is expected to draw 40,000 to 50,000 people, according to Larry Wohlfarth, president of the Ocean Festival.
"It's probably the largest weekend activity the community has," Wohlfarth said. "Each year it grows.
"I've had phone calls from as far away as Connecticut. We have people throughout the country who plan their vacations around it. San Clemente is becoming known for its fiesta activity during the summer."
Organizers also see increased community interest in the traditional summer activities. "There is a new young population in San Clemente," Stubbs said. "They're energetic and excited. Taking part in the community has become popular again."