Mission San Juan Capistrano will host St. Joseph’s Day and the Return of the Swallows Celebration from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19.
The celebration begins with Mass from 8:30-9:15 a.m. at Mission Basilica and continues at 10 a.m. with festivities on the historic Mission grounds.
Though St. Joseph’s Day and the Return of the Swallows celebration is an annual event, this year promises to feature something special — the cliff swallows themselves.
Acting on the advice of cliff swallows expert Dr. Charles Brown, the Mission last year implemented a “vocalization project” in the hopes of attracting the birds who have been distracted in years past by urbanization.
Once again, in effort to attract more swallows, speakers have been strategically placed on the Mission grounds and will play courtship songs for the next eight weeks to lure in the birds.
“The hope is to play calls and songs that will attract the interest and notice of passing cliff swallows,” said Dr. Brown, professor of biological sciences at the University of Tulsa. ”Once they see this site, there’s a good chance they will be interested. It’s a matter of attracting them in; we know they are overhead and in the area.”
Dr. Brown will give a lecture beginning at 2 p.m. in the Soldiers Barracks, part of a festive day of activities that will include:
- New Gate House and front entrance now open to the public
- Daily Ringing of the Historic Bells in honor of Father Serra at 9 a.m.
- Ceremonial Ringing of Historic Bells in honor of St. Joseph and the Return of the Swallows at 10:15 a.m., noon and 3:15 p.m.
- Historic School Bell Ringing at 10 a.m. in the Central Courtyard
- Live music from Renée Bondi and Mariachi for All of Capistrano Community Mariachi Program
- Mission Basilica School traditional student performances
- San Juan Elementary School kindergartners bilingual language immersion program performances
- Performance by Ballet Folklorico de California State University Fullerton
- Performance by Duende Flamenco
- Native American Tushmal Singers and Basketweavers
- Journeys to the Past California Native American stories and dances
- Activities for kids including Adobe Brickmaking and Panning for Gold
- Windows of the Past Exhibit on new Mission Store facility in public plaza on Ortega Highway
- Swallows Walk and Talk tour at 11:15 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Docents stationed at the Serra Chapel, Great Stone Church and museum exhibits to provide information and answer questions
- Vendors Las Golondrinas (Mexican food); Z Pizza (artisan pizza); Hawaiian Delight (coffee, churros, cotton candy); and Gavin Arts (Swallows Celebration commemorative T-shirts and sweatshirts)
The cliff swallows migrate annually to Goya, Argentina, in October, and return to their spring and summer home in San Juan Capistrano each March.
The Swallows celebration began centuries ago when Mission padres observed that the birds’ return roughly coincided with St. Joseph’s Day on the church calendar, March 19.
General admission is $10 for Adults, $9 for seniors (60+) and $6 for children (ages 4-11). Admission is free for Mission Preservation Society members, current volunteers with I.D., and children 3 and under.
Tickets are available now at the Mission’s Gate House and may be purchased in advance or on event day.
To learn more, visit www.missionsjc.com.
*Contributed by Mission San Juan Capistrano