Swallows Day Parade

It's the 54th annual San Juan Capistrano celebration.

ADMIT IT: You've been in San Juan Capistrano in January. Or October. Or any time of the year that isn't the middle of March. And you've found yourself, well. Staring up. Staring at the sky. Looking in the tree branches and gazing at the famous bells of the mission. What are you looking for? A small bird that is synonymous with the historic city. The swallow is so associated with the village, in fact, that one just sort of wants to the place to be swallow-y all year long. Of course it isn't -- the birds are said to return on St. Joseph's Day, or March 19. True, they don't just make a day layover -- they're in town for a bit -- but the celebrating truly commences at the beginning of their annual sojourn. As it will again in 2012. The 54th Annual Swallows' Day Parade is on Saturday, March 24.

HOW THE WEST WAS FUN: That's the theme for this year, so look for interpretations of various yippee-ki-yay-isms around Capistrano. It also bills itself as "the nation's non-motorized parade" which, we think, fits the birdly to-do. After all, birds? Not motorized. Horses, dancers, bands, and people waving round out the day. Has a swallow, though, ever cameo'd in the parade? A real swallow? And do they know the parade is in their honor? It can be so hard to get a minute or two with those migrating celebs.

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