Adopt a Pumpkin

Fall Display Botanical GardenAdopt A Pumpkin in the Balboa Park Botanical Building

This year, Friends of Balboa Park is pleased to announce a new fundraising initiative in partnership with the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department. For the first time, the public can now adopt a pumpkin in the Annual Fall Floral Display, inside Balboa Park’s Botanical building.

You can now dedicate a pumpkin for a loved one with a tax-deductible donation of $20. Donors and honorees will be recognized in the Botanical Building for the duration of the display, approximately one month long for the month of November.

Adopt a pumpkin today and support the annual Fall Floral Display in Balboa Park’s Botanical Building.

Annual Pumpkin Display





We would like to acknowledge your donation.

Celebrate National Carousel Day in Balboa Park

In July 2017, Friends of Balboa Park became the new owner of the historic Balboa Park carousel, a landmark feature that has contributed to the park’s world-renowned heritage.  Friends is now working to ensure this extraordinary 1910 Herschell-Spillman carousel remains the beloved icon it’s been known for since becoming a permanent fixture in Balboa Park in 1922.  Friends’ mission – to “preserve Balboa Park’s legacy for future generations through park-wide projects” – makes the operation and preservation of the carousel one of our highest and most noble initiatives.  The acquisition was made possible thanks to a small but generous group of San Diego philanthropists who contributed towards the necessary down payment.  With the continued help of the public, Friends of Balboa Park will not only be able to carry on the traditions of the carousel but revenue from ticket sales will be reinvested into what Friends’ has become known for: Making meaningful capital improvements throughout Balboa Park.

Now we need your help!  Support our $3M capital campaign to will enable Friends of Balboa Park to complete the purchase, launch a comprehensive restoration effort, and establish a healthy maintenance fund for the carousel.  Make your tax-deductible donation today!

National Carousel Day - July 25th

Councilmember Chris Ward, County Supervisor Ron Roberts and other dignitaries will help celebrate the capital campaign launch:

Time: News Conference: 9:30 a.m.
Public Event: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Free Carousel Rides: 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Balboa Park Carousel (Park Blvd. and Zoo Way off the Zoo entrance parking lot)

The public event will entail children’s music and carnival activities, face painting, and more until 2:30 p.m., while free rides will be available until 5 p.m. 

Hours & Location

June –September: 11:00 am – 5:30 pm
October – May: Saturdays and Sundays only, 11:00 am – 5:00pm

$3 per ride (seven minutes long!) / 4 for $10
For special large group rates, call 619-232-2282

Email: info[at]
Phone: 619) 232-2282

1889 Zoo Place, San Diego, CA 92101 (corner of Zoo Place and Park Boulevard)

“I grew up in (San Diego) riding this carousel and I recently had the opportunity to take my own son for the first time.  It was as much a joy for him as it was for me 30+ years ago. And a brass ring winner gave his free ticket to my son!  A priceless experience both as a child and now a parent.”

– Valerie J., Franklin, Wisconsin

Annual Awards Luncheon

Friends would like thank all those who supported the 17th Annual Awards Luncheon on October 17, 2017. The event’s “Magical Menagerie” theme celebrated Friends’ acquisition of the Balboa Park Carousel. With more than 360 guests, we raised over $57,000, with net proceeds going towards future projects and programs. A number of unsung heroes were also honored at the event, and Friends of Balboa Park extends its sincerest congratulations to the honorees:

2017 Millennium Award Honorees

Arlene Simpson

Virginia Long

William Steen


2017 Inspiration Award Honorees

Melanie Flynn, San Diego Museum of Man

Barry Goldlust, San Diego History Center

Sheri Knox, San Diego Natural History Museum

Wendy Ledford, Globe Guilders of The Old Globe

Paul Meyer, Balboa Park Conservancy


2016 Awards Luncheon Inspiration

2017 Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader of Balboa Park Honoree

Ira Bauer-Spector, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet


The event would not be possible with all our attendees, as well as generous sponsors who we encourage you to patronize when given the opportunity:


Millennium Donors

Connie K. Golden

Darlene Marcos Shiley

Stiefel-Behrer Charitable Fund


Underwriter Sponsorships

Magic Moment (Awards) provided by Marie Tuthill

Event Programs provided by All States Mailing Services, Inc.


Table Sponsors

White Ribbon Tables

Senator Toni Atkins

Nancy Carol Carter

Dean M. Crowder

Girl Scouts San Diego

Assemblymember Todd Gloria

George Hardy

Pacific Premier Bank

The San Diego Foundation

San Diego Tourism Authority

Bonnie Scott


Green Ribbon Tables

Ruth Hayward

Jim and Carmen Hughes

Marie Tuthill


Ensuring a positive visitor experience is a major goal for volunteers who regularly interface with the public. With her smile, positive attitude and consistently respectful treatment of all visitors, fellow volunteers and staff, Melanie has become a major asset to the Museum of Man. For nearly three years she’s been volunteering for the Museum on a weekly basis – donning many hats – including the ‘tall hat’ as Tower Trekker providing tours of the Park’s landmark California Tower (built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition). Additionally, Melanie can be found at virtually all of the after-hours special events and openings. She is described as caring, dedicated and loyal. Other Park institutions that have benefited from Melanie’s generous sharing of time and abilities include Mingei International Museum and San Diego Zoo Global.





“Gallery Guide” is an important position at the History Center relative to enhancing visitors’ learning. Barry is well-versed at guiding individuals and groups (mainly school children) through the expertly curated educational exhibits produced by the History Center. For almost three years, ‘Mr. Barry,’ in his capacity as a docent, has been enthusiastically engaging adults and delighting kids with a positive and fun approach to learning. His presentations are especially effective due in part to the extra research time he spends studying the relevant material contained in the Center’s immense archive to enhance his presentations. As a budding historian, Barry assists with the training of other volunteers at the History Center and its other site – The Serra Museum (perched above Mission Valley’s south rim). Recently, Barry earned a coveted spot as a trainee in the Center’s Community Historians Outreach Program.





With a love of the ocean and its creatures (especially the big ones), boundless energy and exceptional organizational skills where did Sheri surface? Eleven years ago, she did the deep dive (yes, she’s a diver) into a challenge put forth by the venerable Natural History Museum that resulted in a special start-up program. Sheri joined the “pod” – soon to be named the Museum Whalers. The group places volunteer naturalists aboard whale watching cruises. As a member of the Museum’s Whalers training committee, Sheri helped plan, prepare materials, assign tasks, and ultimately designed the famous presentation, “Best Job on Earth,” for the Whalers’ rigorous 8-week training course. Naturally, she ascended the ladder and became president of the Whalers – Sheri now serves on the steering committee where she espouses her philosophy: Be professional in all interactions and be mindful of historical perspective – build each year on past successes. Sheri’s ocean-centered volunteer activities “whale tail” nicely with her career at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.




As a legacy volunteer at the Old Globe and at other Park institutions, Wendy abidingly endeavors to add to her family’s extensive philanthropic contributions by putting forth her own ideas and tirelessly volunteering for many organizations. No task is too big or too small. Wendy’s grandmother, Irma Macpherson, was a founder, along with Craig Noel (a leading founding director of Old Globe), of “Globe Guilders,” an all-volunteer artistic and arts engagement support group, for Old Globe. Wendy continues family tradition at the Theatre; she served as Guilder president and chaired the Guilders’ annual fundraiser Celebrating Couture Fashion Show. Additionally, Wendy was named Volunteer of the Year and she received the President’s and the Founder’s Awards. Wendy is a member of Thursday Club (past president), a noteworthy group for the Park. Traditionally half of the proceeds raised from its annual rummage sale are ear-marked for use in Balboa Park.





Paul is a founding member of the Balboa Park Conservancy. He has been a devoted volunteer in Balboa Park and several of its institutions, including Old Globe Theatre (president), for decades. Paul connects with and works well with people on every level. This affable and thoughtful man was chairman of the Balboa Park Trust at the San Diego Foundation, where he also served as a member of the Board Governors. The Trust was an important component in the formation of “BPAL”, the Balboa Park Alliance. BPAL is a successful collaboration of the Trust, Committee of One Hundred and Friends of Balboa Park working on significant projects benefiting the Park as a whole. Paul is known to unfailingly help our Park when asked, utilizing his big picture perspective and solid legal expertise. He spearheaded the initiative to remove automobiles from Plaza De Panama. Paul’s vast curriculum vitae includes myriad leadership roles at organizations throughout our community and our nation.




The Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader of Balboa Park Award

Beginning in 2016, this award recognizes exceptional promise and potential of emerging professionals who have demonstrated leadership by example in Balboa Park.


For his role in fostering broader awareness of the arts within the community – developed through the building of collaborative partnerships, and for significant contributions to the success of San Diego Civic Youth Ballet – Ira Bauer-Spector is the recipient of this year’s prestigious award. As Marketing & Communications Manager for SDCYB, Ira is responsible for media relations, graphics/ video design, and all marketing plans. He coordinates classes, budgets, and produces the annual spring ballet as well as the holiday classic, Nutcracker, for the revered group domiciled in the Park’s Casa del Prado. This young man’s impressive creativity, marketing and leadership skills, coupled with his broad range of talent, has resulted in important initiatives, including: Seven Decades of Ballet in Balboa Park (for SDCYB’s 70th anniversary), Celebrate the Power of Toys, a seven-part mini-documentary series about arts education and its role in Balboa Park, and Youth in Arts, an exhibit at the Casa del Prado Theater that involved contributions from San Diego Youth Symphony and San Diego Civic Dance Arts. Additionally, Ira is founding artistic director of Breakthrough Workshop Theatre and he has participated in several San Diego International Fringe Festivals.


Photos from the 2017 Annual Awards Luncheon

Photos from the 2016 Annual Awards Luncheon


Exhibits and Performances

Museum of ManNovember 2017.  Thank you to the Balboa Park Visitors Center for compiling this monthly list. Download and Print the list

Centro Cultural de la Raza

  • Permanent Exhibits — ongoing

Fleet Science Center

  • IMAX films: “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,”  “A Beautiful Planet and “Island of the Lemurs:  Madagascar” (ongoing )  plus “Aircraft Carrier, Guardian of the Seas” (opens 11/10)
  • Dream! Design! Build!  – thru 1/15/18
  • Game Masters: The Exhibition – thru 1/15/18
  • Retro-Active Science – ongoing

Japanese Friendship Garden

  • Creativity and Joy: The Dance of the Brush with Jean Shen and Students – 11/3 thru 1/28/18
  • intrinsic. matter. – Sammy Seung-min Lee & Kazu Oba – 11/10 thru 1/21/18

Marston House Museum & Gardens

  • Permanent Exhibits

 Mingei International Museum

  • Arline Fisch –  thru 1/7/2018
  • Indonesian Shadow Puppets – thru 3/18/18
  • Kantha – Recycled and Embroidered Textiles of Bengal – thru 3/25/18
  • Trappings – thru 11/12
  • Art of the Americas: Pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican Art from Mingei’s permanent collection (thru 2/18/18)

 Museum of Photographic Arts

  • 12th Annual Juried Youth Exhibition – 11/4 thru 2/27/18
  • Point/Counterpoint: Contemporary Mexican Photography 2000 – 2015 — thru 2/11/18

San Diego Air & Space Museum

  • 3D/4D films: “Legend of Apollo,”  “Aerobic Challenge,” and “Night at the Toy Store”
  • Be the Astronaut – ongoing

 San Diego Art Institute

  • Angele Lebert: Solo – 11/5 thru 11/26
  • Mano A Mano – 11/7 thru 11/11
  • Mano A Mano Mural Exhibition — 11/11 thru 1/7/18

 San Diego Automotive Museum

  • No Roads Required – thru 1/28/18

 San Diego History Center

  • Mail Call – opens 11/4
  • Legacy in Black – opens 11/5
  • Exquisite Views – opens 11/18
  • Part of the Patchwork: Reflections of African-American Life from the Archives thru 2/25/18
  • Celebrate San Diego! The History & Heritage of San Diego’s Jewish Community – thru 5/7/18
  • Marston’s History Emporium: A Hands On Learning Lab – thru 3/25/18
  • Outside the Barbed Wire: Other Options to Internment (JAHSSD) – thru Dec. 2017

 San Diego Model Railroad Museum

  • Autos By Rail: Moving America’s Auto Industry – thru 11/19

 San Diego Museum of Man

  • Living With Animals – ongoing
  • Cannibals: Myth & Reality— thru 2018
  • Monsters! –  ongoing
  • BEERology – ongoing
  • Graffiti Art Murals – ongoing
  • California Tower Tours — ongoing
  • Race: Are We So Different? — ongoing

theNATSan Diego Natural History Museum·        

  • Giant-screen films: (Note: No Films 9/5 – 10/13):  “Ocean Oasis” (ongoing),   “Galapagos 3D” (thru 1/2/18), and “Incredible Predators” (10/14 thru 5/28/18)         
  • The Cerutti Mastodon Discovery – thru 1/14/18         
  • Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science – ongoing·  
  • Baja’s Wild Sidethru 1/14/18       

The San Diego Museum of Art

  • Modern Masters From Latin America: the Perez Simon Collection – thru 3/11/18
  • Frida And Me – thru 3/11/18
  • Brenda Biondo: Play – thru 1/7/18
  • Views of Balboa Park – thru 2/18/18
  • Reflections on Monet – thru 1/21/18
  • Art of the Open Air – ongoing
  • The Art of Papua New Guinea – thru 2/4/18

Timken Museum of Art

  • Monet’s Étreat: Destination & Motif – thru 12/31

Veterans Museum & Memorial Center

  • Jamul Indian Village Veteran Exhibit – ongoing

 WorldBeat Center

  • Permanent Exhibits


 Old Globe Theatres

  • “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (11/4 thru 12/24)
  • “Globe For All: Twelfth Night” (11/19)

 Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

  • “Magic Purple Potion” (11/1 thru 11/5)

 San Diego Dance Arts

  • “Free Night of Theatre 2017” (10/6 thru 10/7)

San Diego Junior Theatre

  • “Tuck Everlasting” (thru 11/12) 

San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory

Twilight Concerts in the Park


Summer Concerts

The Twilight in the Park Concert Series in Balboa Park have been a 30 + year tradition that began with a dedicated volunteer group who wanted to offer musical performances and entertainment to the longer summer days. These concerts had traditionally been held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park and we thank them for this extended partnership. Our role, as Friends of Balboa Park, in this concert series began in 2016 to assist with the administrative duties of hosting a concert series. We are very excited for this partnership and look forward to many more years of adding culture into this Park.

Concerts will be held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6:30 -7:30 pm, with some special events on select days at 5:30 pm during through August.

Click here for more information and the schedule.

Ice Cream Social – Thurs., August 24, 5:30 p.m. Free Ice Cream Social, while Ice Cream last. Sponsored by Friends of Balboa Park.

Additional Activities

Dance lessons throughout the concert season given by Swing Dancing San Diego. Lessons start at 5:45 p.m. July 5, 12; August 8, 24, and 30.

Family Day – July 20, 5:30 p.m. Arts and Crafts



Balboa Park Garden Party

Since the Balboa Park Centennial in 2015, we are proud to have been part of the team to begin a new annual tradition in Balboa Park. Friends of Balboa Park had been busy with the Balboa Park Garden Party 2016 that took place Saturday, May 28, 2016. The day was filled with activities for all to enjoy.

We began the day with a Kids’ Floral Wagon Parade down El Prado, where kids, families, and friends decorated a small wagons to display their creativity with flora and fauna. The horticulture clubs had a great time with park visitors and had hands-on activities for kids of all ages. The day featured special ‘Garden Talks’ with Master Gardeners and local landscapers about popular topics and offered resources and solutions. Plus, who could forget about the food trucks to satisfy that lunchtime hunger.

This park-wide event celebrates the history and horticulture highlighting the plants and programs that make Balboa Park, San Diego’s gem and one of the world’s most interesting civic gardens. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the upcoming years’ event, please contact Leslie at



Garden PartyFloral Wagon Parade - Wagons will be decked with flowers by Garden Clubs, families, and Recreation organizations in the parade from Spanish Village to the Plaza de Panama along El Prado in Balboa Park. Each individual or group receives 2 FREE San Diego County Fair tickets.  Garden Party Costumes

Booths at the Garden Party - If your organization would like to have a booth at the Garden Party.

Garden Clubs Galore! Over 60 garden clubs and organizations will participate with information booths, floral shows, plant sales, demonstrations, and fun!

Garden Party Vendors - Contact us if you're interested in becoming a vendor.

Pacific Photographic Society
 will have a fun booth with borrowed period costumes from San Diego Junior Theater.




The Balboa Park Garden Party 2016 will be co-partnered with the City of San Diego’s Park & Recreation Department, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Balboa Park Conservancy, MTA and Friends of Balboa Park. 


SD Development Services Logo

Arbor Day in Balboa Park

Friends of Balboa Park has brought back the tradition of celebrating Arbor Day in Balboa Park. On Friday, April 28, 2017 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., we will be planting and dedicating a new grove of trees in Balboa Park. Location to be determined shortly.


Dedications are available for a one-time $500 donation to Friends of Balboa Park. Donors and honorees receive a certificate, tree specimen summary, map noting the tree location, and a temporary tag for the day of the celebration. 2017 Dedications are SOLD OUT.

For Arbor Day 2017 we will be planting beautiful Rainbow Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Deglupta and Eucalyptus Corymbia ficifolia-Red Flowering Gum.



Greening the Park

San Diego's first Arbor Day celebration was on Saint Patrick's day in 1904. Kate Sessions helped to organize that first planting, a community event attended by 3500 school children who came to what was then named "City Park" to plant 60 pine and cypress trees. Mary B. Coulston, then secretary of the Chamber's Park Improvement Committee, solicited messages from Governor Pardee and President Theodore Roosevelt to be read to the children, thereby insuring avid press interest. To read more about Balboa Park's original Arbor Day, click here to read the full article from "The Trees of Balboa Park: 1910," from the Journal of San Diego History, by Nancy Carol Carter.

Pictured at right is Jean Palmer, great grand daughter of Arbor Day Founder, J. Sterling Morton.  Jean was our special guest in 2014 and she is pictured planting a native California Oak tree in Zoro Garden with school children from Roosevelt Middle School.  Zoro Garden was host to our 2014 Arbor Day, where we planted 12 drought tolerant native species.   Click on our Arbor Day program archives below for more information on this and prior Arbor Day celebrations in Balboa Park:



Since 2008, Friends of Balboa Park brought back the annual celebration by planting Trees in areas designated by Park & Recreation Department that are a part of the Balboa Park Tree Management and Reforestation Plan that includes maintenance, conservation, and replanting guidelines.  Tree groves planted and funded by Friends of Balboa Park since 2008 are located in all areas of the Park:

  • (2008) along Park Blvd near the War Memorial Building Lawn
  •  (2009) on the west side just east of the Lawn Bowling green between  Balboa Park Drive and 6th Ave.
  •  (2010) along Golf Course Drive across the street from the Golden Hill Recreation Center
  •  (2011) at Morley Field near Texas and Upas Street and along the upper east rim of Palm Canyon along Pan American Road West behind the International Cottages.
  •  (2012) at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion around the outer perimeter
  •  (2013) at Quince and 6th Streets on the west side
  •  (2014) at Zoro Garden Gulch
  • (2015) at War Memorial Building Lawn
  • (2016) at Pepper Grove Playground 

Help us Purchase Trees for Arbor Day!

Your tax deductible contribution can help us plant trees for future generations. Contact the office to find out how you can become a Balboa Park Tree donor.

Arbor Day 2015

Picture 1 of 8

Arbor Day 2014

Picture 1 of 65

Arbor Day 2013

Picture 1 of 117

Arbor Day 2012

Picture 1 of 102

Arbor Day 2011

Picture 1 of 25

Arbor Day 2010

Picture 1 of 48

Annual Poinsettia Display

poinsettia display

Help us fund the Annual Poinsettia Display in the Balboa Park Botanical Building. The annual display opens the first weekend in December and runs through the first week in January. The Botanical Building is closed to the public on Thursdays. We are now accepting donations for the 2017 display. 

The Poinsettia Celebration will be held on Thursday, December 7, 2017 from 3 to 5 p.m. inside the Botanical Building. We invite all donors, honorees, and members to celebrate the end of a wonderful year with us. This event is free, but RSVP is requested
by November 30: or call 619-232-2282. Invitations coming soon.   

Your donation of $25 or more will help fill the Botanical Building with the beautiful flowers and the Friends will acknowledge your gift by:

Placing your name and your honoree’s name on the Poinsettia Honor Roll featured inside the Botanical Building during the display.


A lovely Poinsettia card will be sent to that special someone acknowledging your gift in their honor.

Please use the special instruction field in the checkout process to send us the e-mail and/or address of the person being acknowledged with your Poinsettia donation

Join us in become a part of this special holiday tradition! We must receive your donation by December 1, 2017 to be listed on the 2017 Poinsettia Honor Roll inside the Botanical Building.

You may call our office 619.232.2282 to make a donation using your credit card or check. Email us at if you have any questions.

To make a donation online using PayPal or a credit card use the form below.

Annual Poinsettia Display




We would like to acknowledge your donation.

December Nights Information Booths

December Nights has been a tradition within Balboa Park for over the past 40 years. This event is a San Diego tradition to celebrate the holiday season with an abundance of free music, dance performances, vendors, and of course, food!

Friends of Balboa Park has traditionally hosted an event information booth to guide park visitors to various performances and activities. Volunteers hold an important role and it wouldn’t be possible without people like you. To get more information about available time-slots, please contact or call (619) 232-2282.

This year, it will take place on:

Friday December 1: 3 to 11 p.m. 

Saturday December 2: Noon to 11 p.m. 


Annual Butterfly Celebration!

butterfly garden


Friends of Balboa Park has hosted the Annual Butterfly Release in Zoro Garden since 2007. Each year, we look forward to releasing hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies with the help of children, families, and friends. This event is made possible by generous donors and sponsors, the 2017 Sponsorship Opportunities are now available.

This year, we will continue to host the butterfly release as part of Fiesta Botanica, on Saturday, May 27, 2017. Butterflies will be released at 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30 p.m. in Zoro Garden.

Between butterfly releases, children’s activities are provided by the San Diego Floral Association. Performance schedule to be updated closer to the date of the celebration.

This event is made possible by generous donors. To make a contribution in support of the annual butterfly release, click here or contact us at

SD floral association