Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Revolution in Huntington Beach Central Park, Presidents' Day Weekend

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, MMA-NYC, 1851. (WikiCommons)

   Join the Huntington Beach Historical Society for a little rebellion this weekend, February 13 and 14, for The Revolution.  We understand both tea and coffee will be available (but for consumption, not dumping).

Saturday, February 13
10AM - Camps open to the public
11:30AM Artillery Demonstration
12PM - His Majesty's Forces' Manual of Arms
1PM - First Engagement - Battle of Lexington, 1775
2PM - Great Moments with Dr. Franklin
2:30PM - 18th c. Dancing Demonstration
3:30PM - Von Steuben's Drill at Valley Forge
5PM - Evening Skirmish - The Retreat to Boston, Parker's Revenge 1775

Sunday, February 14

9AM - Church Services
10AM - Camps open to the public
10:30AM - Artillery Demonstration
11AM - Von Steuben's Drill at Valley Forge
12PM - Second Engagement - Princeton, 1777
1PM - Great Moments with Dr. Franklin
1:30PM - 18th c. Dancing Demonstration
2PM - His Majesty's Forces' Manual of Arms
4PM - Event Closes

   More details on The Revolution web page at!the-revolution/dtzzu

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Huntington Beach history! Saturday, January 23, at Orange County's Heritage Hill Historical Park in Lake Forest

   Learn more about Huntington Beach's unique pioneer history and about America's newest---and Orange County's first and only---National Treasure at this presentation and book signing.

   The presentation will feature rare photographs not included in the book and an update on the effort to preserve Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Huntington Beach Historical Society's Civil War Days September 5 - 6

A gathering of Civil War veterans at the Methodist Campground in Huntington Beach, circa 1913. (Photograph courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)

   Did you know the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)---Civil War veterans from the North and South---camped at Huntington Beach beginning in 1887? 

   This was an annual multi-day reunion held at the end of August / start of September at the beach and Methodist campground near Acacia and Orange streets (where the century-old and recently restored Corner Market is today). Hundreds and sometimes thousands attended.

LEFT: The GAR encampment included military ceremonies, beach camp fires, musical entertainment and, at times, lively political debate. (Image, Los Angeles Herald, September 7 1905)

    This weekend, 128 years later, the Huntington Beach Historical Society holds its annual Civil War Days with historical reenactment in Central Park.  Representing a volatile period in America, historical reenactment of the Civil War provides an educational opportunity and a reminder of Huntington Beach's GAR history.

    In the early 1900s, the Huntington Beach News reported on activities, flag drills, musical entertainment, plays, beach camp fires, ceremonies and trips via the Red Car into the Sawtelle Veterans Home in Los Angeles County (established in 1887). 

LEFT: Cannons, bugles, flags and military attire filled the streets and beaches of Huntington Beach when the GAR came to town. (Photograph courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)

    Except for an outbreak of ptomaine poisoning among 200 veterans after a big dinner in August 1910, they generally had a good time. There are some reports of arguments regarding the North and the South, which they resolved or agreed to disagree. As we know in 2015, this history remains a living part of the fabric of America.

LEFT: By 1910, the GAR encampment at Huntington Beach was in its 23 year (despite the typo in the newspaper headline). An outline of the week's activities includes a speech by the mayor of Huntington Beach and a formal goodbye handshake at the close. (Image, Los Angeles Herald, July 4, 1910)

    This is a free event to the public in Huntington Beach's beautiful Central Park.  More information can be found on the Huntington Beach Historical Society's website for this event at

ABOVE: The Malvern Camp Hill Post at Huntington Beach, circa 1900.  A news article of the time notes the veterans preferred their tents to other accommodations. The history of "tent cities" in Huntington Beach relates to the GAR, the oil boom (when housing could not keep pace), and to religious revivals. (Photograph courtesy of City of Huntington Beach archives)

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Huntington Beach blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's hanami time! Sister City 2nd annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Central Park

The first annual Cherry Blossom Festival in 2014 was perfectly timed with the blossoming of cherry trees from Huntington Beach's Sister City of Anjo, Japan. (Photograph courtesy of Gregory Robertson) © All rights reserved.

without regret
they fall and scatter
cherry blossoms
~Issa, a haiku written in 1821
   It's time for the Cherry Blossom Festival!  Join the Huntington Beach Sister City Association Sunday, March 22, for the second annual Cherry Blossom Festival, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Central Park at the grandstand area behind the Huntington Beach Central Library.

Left: Monument stone in Central Park recognizing the gift of cherry trees from Sister City Anjo, Japan.

 A tradition adopted from Huntington Beach's Sister City of Anjo, Japan---who presented the cherry trees as a gift to the City---the tradition of "flower viewing" is called hanami.  

Most often, hanami festivals and picnics are centered around the sakura, or cherry blossoms.  The hanami is a tradition known to have occurred at least as early as the 3rd Century A.D.  It is deeply embedded in Japanese culture, a time for friends and family to gather outdoors, welcome spring, and socialize.

   The U.S. National Cherry Blossom Festival began March 27, 1912, with the planting of cherry trees by First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador.  Japan presented as a gift of friendship more than 3,000 trees, come of which were planted on the grounds of the White House.  

   As more trees were planted in the Potomac Park, the annual spring blossoming evolved into the first National Cherry Blossom Festival in 1935, which has since become a beloved tradition in Washington, D.C.  

Right: A stone lantern and stones presented to the City of Huntington Beach by Anjo, Japan, circa 1982. (Photograph by M.Urashima, February 2015) © All rights reserved.

   The National Cherry Blossom Festival is opened by the lighting of a 300-year-old Japanese Stone Lantern that was a gift from Japan in 1954, recognizing the 100th anniversary of the first Treaty of Peace, Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan on March 31, 1854.

Right: Cherry trees blossoming in Huntington Beach Central Park. (Photograph by M. Urashima, March 9, 2015) © All rights reserved.

   Forecasting the dates on which cherry trees will be in full bloom is high science in Japan.  The Japan Meteorological Agency track the cherry blossom "front" as it moves from southern to northern Japan, which is then reported by every news outlet.  

   We can report the cherry trees in Huntington Beach Central Park are now in bloom, perfectly timed with the Sister City Association's hanami so that locals and visitors can experience the "pink clouds."

Left: Taiko drummers performing at the 2014 Cherry Blossom Festival in Huntington Beach Central Park. (Photograph by M. Urashima, March 29, 2014) © All rights reserved.  

   The Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival features live dance and theater performances, music, local organizations relating to both Japanese and Japanese American culture and history.  

   The festival also features a variety of savories and sweets to try.  In keeping with a humorous Japanese proverb, "dumplings before flowers," check out some delicious Japanese cuisine and cool off with shave ice, a local favorite.

   Cherry blossoms have various symbolic meanings in Japanese culture, but often are seen as a metaphor for the fragility and transience of life.  A beautiful reminder to take time to view the cherry blossoms!

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Huntington Beach blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.