Chula Vista celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. I have interviewed several dozen Chula Vistans now, and one event every one of them remembers with great fondness is the Fiesta de la Luna.
I was recently lent a copy of a beautiful "Souvenir Program" for the 13th annual Fiesta de la Luna, held Friday August 15 through Sunday, August 17 in 1947.
The history of the Fiesta is included in the Program. "Spanish" theme was a result of the experience of Mrs. A.F. Pratt, the first general chairman of the Fiesta, who had lived in Mexico from childhood until the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution. The Fiesta de la Luna was begun by the Chula Vista Women’s Club in 1932, and was an annual celebration until 1942, when World War II interrupted. In 1946 it returned, and in the 1947 booklet it was described as “one of the major celebrations in San Diego county.”
By this year, the floats in the Fiesta de la Luna’s Parade were major attractions. One was billed as a joint effort of the Chula Vista, Ensenada, and Tijuana Rotary Clubs’ which was called “Friendly-Hands Across the Border.” There was also a Horse Show (my neighbor who used to live across the street, Marg Parsons, once showed me a clipping of herself – just gorgeous – on her palomino. Her palomino was also gorgeous!)
The illustrations in the Souvenir Program are amazing. The front cover features a gorgeous drawing of a Spanish dancer with swirling skirts, mantilla and veil and fringe flying, and Page 1 shows “Chula Vista Bowl” as I’ve never seen it: Trees encircle it behind, carefully pruned shrubbery is in front, and a wide, C shaped body of water is in front. But my favorite photo is of little “Jeannine Fitterols Lovely child entertainer” in a dress with 7 flounces, bare midriff, an off the shoulder blouse, and a full head of curls.
The kickoff event, in 1947, was on Thursday evening at the Annual Costume Dinner and Dance, when that year’s Festival Queen was to be crowned. Contestants had to “be single (never married) 18 to 22, art least 5 feet, five inches tall and at least 118 pounds in weight.” They were sponsored by various “clubs, individual firms or by individuals” and the judges were “professional(s).”
Another very important part of the event were the three performances of the “Spanish Masquerade,” which featured 14 actors; the photos show the ladies are all lovely and the men handsome (or comic)!
Another repeater event was the Keener-Teener Dance, held “All Three Nights Of Fiesta” at the Recreation Center on Parkway.
Probably the highlight of the Fiesta was the much anticipated “FIESTA PARADE” on Saturday, with participant categories including “Sections” of Organizations, Bicycles, “Original Costumed Children,” Pets, Vehicles. All these categories merited prizes for best in 3 different levels; the Childrens’ category, for instance for achieving something in it (I cannot figure out exactly what), and the Grand prize was a bike, 2nd prize was “a pedigreed Cocker Spaniel Dog” and 3rd prize was a trike, along with ribbons for all three winners.
Sunday afternoon featured a “Donkey Softball game” between the Lions and Rotarians. This culminated in another contest – this time to select the “Jackass Queen of the World.” They must have been fetching; they were to be attired “in suitable costumes.” The brochure boasted this would be the “Most colorful event of its kind ever staged.” I have no doubt of this.
And this event was heavily supported by the Chula Vista community’s businesses. Glancing through the profuse listings, I picked out some of the sponsors which appealed to me. They included clothing stores like the Wee Tot Shop “Particular Clothes…for Particular Little People”; and the delightfully named Mode O’Day Dress Shop.
Food and restaurants varied from Norman’s Ice Cream Shop which also served sandwiches and hand dipped chocolates, the “Coolest Spot in Chula Vista” was at Silver Dollar Cocktails with a fabulous Art Deco building front, and milk delivery to your home by Cloyed’s Dairy advertised with a photo of their fleet of 5 vehicles. Dock’s is still on Third, in 1947 they were “Now Serving Delicious Chinese Food”.
Other neat businesses included the J & M Variety Store at 309 Third which displayed its name inside a key; and Fuson’s Garage “Chula Vista’s Longest Established Service Garage”, B.L. Laubmayer “Tractor and Auto Repairing Complete Orchard Service”, Mark H. Money, Realtor “Our Service is Unusual” (I wonder what that meant!).
And then there was Mathews Laundry “Featuring Rough Dry”, and two pet stores, run by the same men offering “fresh horse meat daily”.
A more somber listing was The Guest House “A Hospital for Diagnosis and Treatment of Nervous and Mental Illness and Alcoholism”.
And in a nod to the still running Star-News, a half page ad by and earlier incarnation, The Chula Vista Star which then claimed was “read regularly in more than 70% of the homes of this forward-looking city…”
Chula Vista’s 100th anniversary is being celebrated this year. In this column next month, I’ll be telling about some of our residents who remember the event I’ve been describing above.
Treats past, present, and coming up!