San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer released a three-step plan Monday to “elevate, celebrate and promote” the 100th anniversary of Balboa Park, months after the group tasked with organizing a grandiose celebration disbanded and handed operations back to the city.
The 2015 Balboa Park Centennial will include a year of parties, concerts, exhibits and shows to commemorate the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, an event that helped put San Diego on the map.
Leading up to the various events, parts of the park will be undergoing renovations and enhancements, including Wi-Fi available throughout the grounds.
The plan is a more modest than the initially ambitious, $50 million vision set out under former Mayor Bob Filner.
Nonprofit Balboa Park Celebration Inc. was given $3,069,461 to kick off the planning, but after lackluster fundraising, the group broke up and gave the event back to the city with less than $600,000 left in the budget – and little to show for it.
The current organizers decided to instead focus on the world-class attractions already at the park, building on the $280,000 in BPCI funds invested in ten of the museums and institutions.
Still, the new outline leaves a lot left to do in the few months remaining in 2014.
In the “elevate” portion of his plan, Faulconer announced 21 enhancements to be made throughout Balboa Park.
City leaders hope to expand the Japanese Friendship Garden, restore the Botanical Building, replace existing lighting with energy efficient fixtures, reopen the California Tower after an 80-year closure, add new signage, make ten buildings LEED Certified and bring several areas up to ADA compliance. People or groups can also adopt a garden within the park’s core to improve and maintain it.
Among the bigger goals are a 9,000-square-foot, $9 million Coast to Cactus exhibit to show Southern California habitats and new food and beverage contracts for more concessions, which could include food trucks.
The park’s annual December Nights will act as the opening and closing ceremonies for the centennial celebration.
Here are the events and exhibits planned for the rest of 2015:
- Centennial Concert on New Year’s Eve 2014 from 7 to 9:30 p.m., including a march down El Prado and performances at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion
- Living History Car Show and Antique Car Tour at the San Diego Automobile and Air & Space Museum on Jan. 10
- 2theXtreme – MathAlive! Interactive exhibit from Jan. 24 to Sept. 13 at the San Diego Air & Space Museum
- A Century of Dance show from Jan. 30 to Feb. 15
- The Discovery of King Tut exhibit at the Natural History Museum from Oct. 11, 2014 to April 26, 2015
- Garden Party for the Century at various gardens each weekend from April 24 to May 9
- Twilight in the Park’s free music, dance and theatre shows at Plaza de Panama, the Organ Pavilion and gardens throughout the year
- Centennial Railway Garden from Jan. 2015 to June 2016, showing a model of Balboa Park as it was in 1915
- Spanish Village Art Center History and Retrospective Art Show throughout January
- 7 Billion Others multimedia exhibition at the Museum of Photographic Arts from February to September
- Balboa Park Exposition Designers 1915-1935 from February to November at the Marston House Museum and Gardens
- A yet-to-be-announced fall signature event
A number of avenues will be used to promote the events, including a new centennial website, special 100 anniversary exhibits, HD cameras to provide 24/7 views of the park, advertisements on San Diego’s historic trolleys and banners in and around Balboa Park.
Next year’s San Diego County Fair will also cross-promote the centennial with the theme “A Fair to Remember: A Celebration of World’s Fairs and Balboa Park.”
Meanwhile, the city’s Tourism Marketing District will be working on a $2 million plan to attract visitors from nearby regional markets to Balboa Park.