Swallows Day Parade: Capistrano History

A mercado starts out the festive morning in San Juan Capistrano.

NOT EVERY PLACE... is lucky enough to have a famous flutterer or feathery visitor associated with it. True, hummingbirds do seem to love a flowery garden, and ospreys are sometimes seen in high up, regally serving the landscape from a tall, mountain-based tree. But as far as a particular town's particular relationship to a particular bird? That doesn't happen all that often, except, of course, in the mission-magnificent burg of San Juan Capistrano. The old town has long had a fabled relationship with the swallow, and when the swallows are said to return to the area. That time has traditionally been around March 19, or St. Joseph's Day, but even if you don't spy a vibrant winged icon flying around the bells of the mission, you can trust you will see something in the village that'll warm your history-loving cockles: a parade. Not just any parade, of course, but the...

SWALLOWS DAY PARADE... and Mercado Street Fair. The procession, billed as "...one of the nation's largest non-motorized parade(s)," has been around for nearly six decades. Community spirit and costume-ready charm? You'll definitely see that, and horses, carriages, and a host of historical flair. Plus? So many sweet young'uns in their swallows outfits, which only ups the air of quaint-a-tude. Do note, however: The 2017 parade is not on March 19, but, rather Saturday, March 25. And while the downtown-based festivities roll at 11 a.m., you'll want to arrive earlier for the start of the mercado (which begins at 9 o'clock). Prepare to flutter your own wings for one of California's quintessential celebrations, Fiesta de las Golondrinas, which easily weaves together feathers and tales and tradition, not to mention the locals and visitors who love it all. 

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