SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Billed as one of the major events of the Balboa Park centennial celebration, the "Garden Party of the Century" began Saturday morning.
The event, arranged by the Balboa Park Online Collaborative and Balboa Park Conservancy, begins at 9 a.m. with a flower show at the Balboa Park Club and a floral wagon parade for children. Attendees will also be able to talk to
horticulture experts and hear talks from master gardeners at the Botanical Building.
The garden party is among a series of events that mark 100 years since the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, which gave San Diego international attention for the first time.
Planning for the celebration over the past couple of years was often rocky and controversial, with some proponents pushing for a series of spectacular festivals and performances that would attract visitors from around
the United States and overseas. A volunteer group charged with putting together the celebration disbanded after failing to gain major sponsors.
The collaborative and conservancy took over production of the centennial celebration, with much of the programming coming from park museums and other cultural institutions.
The garden party will be the venue for the Marines making amends for deeds of some leathernecks about 90 years ago. About 10:30 a.m., Marine Brig. Gen. James Bierman will present Mayor Kevin Faulconer with a Tecate cypress tree to make good for the theft of Balboa Park plants by Marines in the 1920s.
A local urban legend has it that the commandant of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at the time, Major Gen. Smedley Butler, would grant liberty to his troops if they brought him plants for his garden, according to the mayor's office. The San Diego mayor at the time had to ask him to get his Marines to stop stealing the plants from the park.
Faulconer will present an orchid to Bierman on behalf of San Diegans for the Marine Corps' service to the city and nation, the mayor's office said.
Along with the plant exchange, 250 Marines will parade across the Cabrillo Bridge in order to recreate a 1915 photo.
The garden party will also include garden tours, floral-themed works of art in Spanish Village, entertainers, and a 4 p.m. concert by the Youth Orchestra of the Californias at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.