"The Romance of San Juan Capistrano" will be the theme of the 36th annual Fiesta de las Golondrinas Parade today, but "bigger and better" also will describe this year's celebration of the swallows, say parade organizers.
With the naming of Teeter Romero, a lifelong resident of San Juan Capistrano and a member of the Juaneno Native American tribe, as parade grand marshal, organizers say the tribe will be turning out in large numbers.
There will be 214 entries in the parade, the largest number of participants in the 36-year history of the country's biggest non-motorized parade, parade Chairman Mike Rosenberger said.
Thirteen marching bands will be joining the vast collection of horses, vaqueros, wagons and carts, also a parade record.
The parade starts at 11 a.m. and runs along Camino Capistrano from Del Obispo Street, past the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
The parade turns at La Zanja Street and heads back along El Camino Real to Ortega Highway and splits off a final time on Del Obispo Street, heading back to Camino Capistrano.
Parking can be difficult to find near parade time, so those planning to attend should go early, parade organizers said.
People who show up before the parade can attend the Mercado, the street fair that is also an annual event.
The Mercado is held in front of the Mission San Juan Capistrano on Ortega Highway and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There will be several food and crafts booths, many featuring Old West-style art. The Mercado food booths are known for serving barbecue beef and tri-tip sandwiches.
Live country-Western music will be played from a large truck bed, and people will be able to line dance on the streets of San Juan Capistrano near the mission.