Fiesta de las Flores celebrates 60 years of community

ENCINITAS — St. John’s Catholic Church hosted the 60th anniversary of its Fiesta de las Flores summer community celebration from Aug. 13 through Aug. 15.
The three-day event is an opportunity to bring the surrounding community, the parish and the school together according to organizers. “This is a huge community building event,” said Lisa Clifford, one of the planners. “More than anything, this fiesta is a way to give back to the community and say ‘thank you’ for always giving back to us,” the longtime Encinitas resident and church parishioner said.
Several attendees were excited about the historical significance of the event. For 60 years, longer than the city has been incorporated, St. John’s has been a mainstay in the area. Barbara Picco, principal of the school, mingled among students, parents and parishioners. “The parish was established in 1951,” Picco said. “We’ve been around for a long, long time.”
For others the event was an opportunity to gather with friends in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. Luis Cardona lined up to try chef Raphael Navarro’s nachos as young volunteers from the parish served him. “It takes hundreds of people to make this happen,” Clifford said. From the Boy Scout troop cleaning up to the Knights of Columbus selling hot dogs, each group within the church seemed to have a part to execute.
The event coincided with a musical production at the church featuring the St. John’s Players. Director Margie Cohen was busily preparing before the first curtain call of “The Misfit of Broadway.”
“The group of performers has been around for four years,” she said. Youth from the parish and the North County region ages 14 to 25 years old are invited to join according to Cohen, an Encinitas resident and lifelong parishioner.
With great fanfare the kickoff celebration included live music, games and more. The newest addition was the St. John’s Electric Crib. “This is basically your Dave and Busters under a tent,” Clifford said.
The area was designed specifically with the youth in mind and featured two video screens, Guitar Hero, skee ball, super shot basketball, Dance Dance Revolution, air hockey and other interactive games. “We thought it was a better draw than the rides we normally have,” she said. “This is awesome,” replied 10-year-old Pedro Guzman as he sidled up next to the virtual golf screen. “I love this place.”
Crowd-pleasing live entertainment included all youth bands on the first day of the festival and concluded with local favorites Rockola. “There are different types of music and there really is something for everyone over the three days,” said Jeffrey Benson, a visitor from Florida. “My family wanted to come when they saw the sign, so here we are,” he said. “It was a good decision,” Jeffrey Benson’s wife Tanya agreed as the two watched the band play perched on chairs in the nearby beer garden.
The final day of the festival wrapped up the event with an all-day celebration beginning at 10 a.m. The traditional mariachi band Mariachi la Voz de Mexico and dance group Folklorica rounded out the entertainment.