July 19-22, 1911
The afternoon program began with a military parade along D Street (today’s Broadway) and on to the site of the morning mass. Here, after an introduction by exposition president U. S. Grant, Jr., Reverend Edward F. Hallenbeck of the First Presbyterian Church gave the invocation. A triple quartette sang the Exposition Ode.
Joseph W. Sefton, Jr. welcomed the guests. Lee C. Gates, representing Governor Hiram Johnson, extolled the glories of California. John Barrett spoke for President Taft. Then Sefton loosened the earth with a silver spade and passed the spade to Barrett, who turned the first sod. Guests and officials took turns with the spade before it was returned to Sefton, who turned the last sod.
On the morning of the second day, floats representing the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Equal Suffrage Movement, the American Women’s League, and trucks and automobiles covered with flowers paraded down D Street. In the afternoon, athletes, sponsored by the San Diego Rowing Club, swam, rowed, and raced tub-boats in the harbor, and the San Diego Aero Club began an aviation meet at the Coronado polo grounds.
In the evening, floats representing ten historic scenes followed the same route as the morning’s parade. The floats included Aztec priests sacrificing to the god of war; Balboa taking possession of the Pacific for the King of Spain; the downfall of Montezuma and the triumph of Cortes; Cabrillo’s caravel; Father Serra planting the cross at the Presidio in San Diego; King Neptune presiding at the wedding of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; and San Diego – Past, Present and Future.
On the morning of the last day, citizens outdid themselves by producing a stunning mission pageant under the direction of Henry Kabierske of Chicago and of Edwin H. Clough of San Diego. Floats depicted the 21 California missions in their actual decrepit condition. Saints preceded floats of missions named after them. Boys held canopies over the saints’ heads and girls scattered flowers in their paths. The pageant had some of the awe-inspiring quality of the famous Semana Santa of Seville, Spain. Nearly 1,000 volunteers impersonated saints, friars, soldiers and Indians.
A reporter for the San Diego Union estimated that 60,000 persons had passed through the Isthmus gates at D and Union Streets during the four days, 15,000 of these on the last night.
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