By Stacy Lee
Celebrate the founding of Mission San Gabriel Archangel this Labor Day Weekend at the 244th Annual Fiesta with religious, cultural and historical festivities.
The fourth of the original 21 California missions, San Gabriel Mission was established on Sept. 8, 1771 by Father Junipero Serra.
The three-day celebration this year will be on Friday, Sept. 4 from 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, Sept. 5 from noon to midnight and Sunday, Sept. 6 from noon to midnight at the San Gabriel Mission located at 428 S. Mission Drive in San Gabriel.
“The main purpose for the Fiesta is for families to come together as a community and celebrate by having a good time,” said Xavier Vargas, executive director of the Fiesta.
The Fiesta also will include live entertainment, bingo and other games, rides and a selection of international foods. There will be a Children’s Costume Contest and a Pet Costume Contest among several competitions with awards and prizes of more than $9,000. A Blessing of the Animals also is planned.
The San Gabriel Mission Royal Court of Queen Andrea Avalos, Princess Sarah Cristine Burrola and Princess Samantha Lozano will make appearances. The San Gabriel Mission Marimba Ensemble will perform.
Fiesta Festivities and Entertainment Coordinator Betancourt said the Fiesta coordination is a group effort between the San Gabriel Mission Parish, Elementary School and High School.
“Everybody came together to put on this event that takes place in the back parking lot,” he said. “It’s just grown over the years.”
Betancourt pointed out this year will have a new area called the Teen Square.
“The Tech Team will be offering music that youth would be interested in,” he said. “We’re going to have guest DJs come and they’re going to be playing throughout the whole entire Fiesta.”
Event admission is free, however, San Gabriel Mission welcomes canned food donations for its pantry.