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Reliving the Day Cabrillo Landed at San Pedro : Thousands Are Expected to See the Reenactment

October 11, 1986|WILLAM S. MURPHY

When Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo anchored off San Pedro on an October day in 1542, the progress of his ship's longboat carrying the Spanish explorer toward the beach was watched by a group of curious Indians. This evening, several thousand persons are expected to be on hand at the Cabrillo Marine Museum in San Pedro to witness the annual reenactment of this historic event.

It will be the finale to an activity-filled day for both adults and children. According to veteran museum co-director John Olguin, the 11th Annual Cabrillo Landing Pageant will begin with activities for children at 1 p.m. and, during the day, will feature bands, strolling musicians, Portuguese dancers, a puppet show, a nature walk and a talk about the life of Cabrillo. The festival will also include a presentation of the film "California's Dawn: Spanish Explorers," which details the discovery of precious stones by early Portuguese explorers. The show will be presented in the auditorium of the museum at 1:30 and 2 p.m. For youngsters from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., a thousand wood models of Cabrillo's ship will be given away. These have to be assembled, and nails and hammers will be provided. There will also be face and poster painting.

The whole family will want to visit the museum/aquarium, which is devoted to promoting awareness and knowledge of the rich marine life of Southern California through exhibits, programs and research. The museum has the largest collection of Southern California marine life on exhibit in the world. Interpretive displays explain the typical plants and animals of our coastal waters. The museum itself closes at 5 p.m.

Authentic Costumes

The arrival of Cabrillo and his soldiers dressed in authentic costumes will take place around 9 p.m. when the sailing vessel, Buccaneer Queen, anchors offshore. Searchlights will illuminate two small boats as they are rowed ashore while Indians dance around a camp fire. Olguin promises a spectacular fireworks display to bring down the curtain on the day. The museum is a facility of the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department. Co-sponsoring the celebration is the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Department.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first arrived off the coast of California Sept. 28, 1542, in two small vessels, the San Salvador and the Victoria, discovering the Bay of San Diego. The two ships pressed on, landing at Santa Catalina Island, where the native Americans proved friendly. On the 8th of October, according to Bartolome Ferrelo, Cabrillo's pilot, the explorers "came to the mainland in a large bay, which they named Bai de los Fumos on account of the many smokes they saw there." The historian, Hubert Howe Bancroft, presumed this to be San Pedro.

They visited Ventura, passed through the Santa Barbara Channel, and landed on San Miguel Island seeking refuge from a heavy northwest wind. Here Cabrillo had the misfortune to fall and break his arm. Nevertheless, the voyage was continued, and Cabrillo finally sighted the Northwest Cape off what is now Fort Ross, but he missed Monterey and the Bay of San Francisco. Encountering adverse winds, Cabrillo returned to San Miguel where he died from complications brought about by his broken arm. Ferrelo, the ship's pilot continued the exploration at the dying request of his captain. He reached as far north as the Rogue River in Oregon, then returned to Mexico.

Everything Is Free

To reach the museum, take the Harbor Freeway (11) south. Exit to San Pedro at Gaffey Street. Follow Gaffey to 22nd Street. Left to Pacific Avenue. Right on Pacific Avenue. to 36th Street. Left on 36th to the museum. Everything, including the parking, is free. Families are invited to bring a picnic hamper and spend the day enjoying the varied activities. For further information: (213) 548-7562.

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