New year, new jewels

Posted: February 3rd, 2017 | Columnists, Featured, Growing Balboa Park | No Comments

By Reema Makani Boccia | Growing Balboa Park 

Every new year can bring reflection on the past, and setting goals for the year ahead. If getting to know your backyard park — aka Balboa Park — is one of your resolutions, take a stroll through the grounds and check out a few new things Friends of Balboa Park has recently been busy tending to.

An information kiosk updated by Friends (Photo by Leslie Yu)

Information kiosks

Five information kiosks have been strategically placed throughout Balboa Park, first installed in 2007, thanks to generous support from community donors.

These helpful kiosks feature ATMs, sponsorship messages, and up-to-date information and maps for park events, exhibitions, gardens, tours, restaurants and comfort stations.

They reach more than 65,000 visitors each year, helping patrons navigate the park’s extensive cultural offerings.

Stop by a kiosk and discover all that the park has to offer.

One of two gate houses restored by Friends of Balboa Park (Photo by Richard Seignious)

Gate houses

As one approaches the Cabrillo Bridge entrance to Balboa Park, there used to be two ramshackle huts that dotted each side of the bridge.

They have been restored to their original splendor from the 1915 Exposition, thanks to Friends of Balboa Park donors, volunteers and local preservation experts.

Beautiful structures now welcome visitors to the west end of the park, just as was intended more than a century ago.

Betty Peabody bestowed with the California “Champion of the Community” award. (Photo by Sam Hodgson)

State recognition

The California Park & Recreation Society recently honored Friends of Balboa Park founder and current board member Betty Peabody with the California “Champion of the Community” award.

A park volunteer since 1969, Peabody founded Friends of Balboa Park in 1999, helping to spearhead numerous initiatives for the park, including the Adopt-A-Plot Program, bench tributes, tree dedications and other programs unique to Friends that facilitate the community’s direct involvement in the enhancement of Balboa Park.

She has since served on the board of directors, and remains an active volunteer on numerous park committees, always advocating for the “Jewel of San Diego.”

Photo contest

Friends of Balboa Park are hosting a photo contest open to people of all ages who wish to capture some of our recent flagship projects. Help us commemorate the aforementioned milestones, along with other projects Friends of Balboa Park have completed.

The winner will receive a Balboa Park gift basket and recognition on the Friends website and social media channels to thank them for their support.

Use #FriendsOfBalboaPark and #BestOfBalboaPark to make sure we find your photos. Contest closes Feb. 21.

Friends’ mission is to enhance and preserve Balboa Park and we strive to do this in every project that we take on. We accomplish this through generous donors as well as dedicated volunteers who commit their time, talents and treasure.

If getting more involved in your neighborhood is one of your objectives for 2017, we hope you will consider joining Friends of Balboa Park. Membership begins at $50, and the organization has a little something for everyone from families to working professionals to retired individuals.

We look forward to seeing you around the park!

—Reema Makani Boccia is a public relations consultant who serves as communications officer for Friends of Balboa Park. For more information, visit

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