Mission Beach celebrates its centennial

By Jacqueline Almeida

Stop by Belmont Park to celebrate the festival.

Stop by Belmont Park to celebrate the festival.

While there are many beaches in San Diego, Mission Beach holds a special place in University of San Diego students’ hearts. Whether they spend the day at the beach or are at a party, there are many reasons for students to visit the lively beach.

USD senior Matt Sirianni, who has lived at the beach for over a year, loves the environment that Mission Beach offers.
“The place is a large playground,” Sirianni said. “There also is no better way to make your friends [and family] back home more jealous than by sending them a picture from your balcony, Snapchats from the boardwalk, or Instagramming the sunsets over the pacific.”

Mission Beach wraps up its seven-month long Centennial Celebration this weekend on Saturday, Sept. 27 with its final event, the Mission Beach Centennial Festival.

The festival, which will be held in Belmont Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., is free and will feature live music, the Draft Untapped Beer Garden, a BBQ Tasting snd Competition, Pilar’s Bathing Beauties Fashion Show, the Mission Beach Museum and many different festival vendors.

Some of the musicians scheduled to play are Euphoria Brass Band, Sue Palmer, Fred Thompson, Ukulele Majesty, The Jackstraws, The Soulside Players, Rian Basilio and the Rosters, and Split Finger. Around 20,000 people are expected to attend.

The Centennial Celebration began in March with the Monument Dedication and Resident Walk and continued into April with Taste of Mission Beach, an eating tour of local restaurants.

In May there was a surf contest and in June a Father’s Day vintage car show. July featured a showing of the movie “Jaws” at the Plunge pool followed by a Learn How to Build a Sandcastle From the Pros event in August. Volleyball and horseshoes tournaments were held earlier in September.

Mission Beach’s history officially began in June 1914 when the official subdivision map was surveyed, and by December 1914 the subdivision map became the first official map of Mission Beach when it was adopted by the Common Council of San Diego. Mission Beach became more accessible, however, when a bridge was built in 1915 connecting it with Pacific Beach.

J.M. Ascher, known as the Father of Mission Beach, was the developer that headed the beach’s Tent City in 1914, although it was dismantled in 1922 and replaced with permanent housing. During this time period there was also a Mission Beach Bathhouse, which was torn down in the 1950s.

John D. Spreckels became the next major developer of Mission Beach with the building of the Mission Beach Amusement Center in 1925. The center featured a games carnival, a ballroom, the Plunge swimming pool and the Giant Dipper roller coaster. Today the Plunge and the Giant Dipper are still around, although the amusement park is now called Belmont Park.

The amusement park’s history hasn’t always been good; in December 1976 the park completely shut down, and the Giant Dipper was in danger of being demolished. The coaster was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1978 and became a National Historic Landmark eight years later, saving it from demolition and making it the second oldest roller coaster in California today. In 1988 Belmont Park reopened, although the Giant Dipper didn’t reopen until Aug. 11, 1990 and tourists and San Diegans have been enjoying the park and coaster ever since.

The park and all of its history will be on full display this weekend, attracting people from all over the city and students spread out in the area who want to experience the wonders of Mission Beach.

“It provides San Diegans with a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and natural beauty of the sea,” Sirianni said. “It serves as a very strong off campus community for upper and even some lower classmen [of USD].”

Sirianni also says that living on Mission Beach promotes a very active lifestyle, making it a very hip place to attract older and younger people alike.

“I enjoy everything from runs on the boardwalk, to laying out and beach bonfires to going out to Comber at night and grabbing a burrito from Sara’s,” Sirianni said. “There is always something to do at Mission Beach.”

Mission Beach and all its attractions are a huge part of San Diego’s long history. What better way to spend the weekend then to hit the beach this weekend and celebrate it.