Home REFERENCE AND INFO PAGES Senior Sojourn: Oh, To Be In Capistrano When The Swallows Return
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Senior Sojourn: Oh, To Be In Capistrano When The Swallows Return PDF Print E-mail

The famed swallows actually do come back to Capistrano every spring, and always precisely on March 19. Well, considering weather and heavy flight schedules, give a day or two.  There are all kinds of celebrations and festivities to mark the return of flocks of thousands of the little birds to Mission San Juan Capistrano. The beautiful buildings and magnicent gardens of the mission were founded by the famed Padre Junipiero Serra in 1776. They are located near the quaint vacation town of Laguna Niguel, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego on Highway 5.

Mission at San Juan Capistrano, California


Many senior travelers can remember way back nearly 70 years when the annual event was romanticized by the 1940 Hit Parade song, “When The Swallows Come Back to Capistrano”. That year it was recorded by the Ink Spots, and ten years later it had another burst of popularity when Pat Boone included it in one of his albums. Considering the kind of music that is popular today, it isn’t likely the gentle, sentimental little tune will be revived any time soon. 

Many people believe the swallows suddenly began returning to the old mission in the 1920s or 1930s, just in time for the song. However, it was obvious that the birds have migrated every year since long before the mission was built, maybe for eons. Whatever the reason, they create a lovely setting for an annual joyful event.

You can visit the mission at any time of year to see the beautiful year-round blossoms, and attend some of its festivities, fairs and picnics. But, if you want to be able to boast that you were part of Capistrano swallow history, just show up on March 19 this year. Er, give a day or two..

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