Panama-California centennial celebration is four days away

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Four days from Monday, San Diego’s year long Panama-California centennial celebration will open to visitors form around the world.

While the official kick-off was December Nights a few weeks ago, there are hundreds of activities and programs nobody has see yet, but they will starting January.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has characterized this celebration as rekindling civic pride in the city’s crown jewel.

The most iconic symbol of the park is the California Tower that has sat at the entrance to the park since it was built in 1915, 100 years ago.

Peter Comiskey is executive director of the park’s cultural partnership that oversees 28 institutions in the park, including the tower.

“It reopens on January first, and people for the first time in 80 years can climb to the top. It’s such a beautiful way to see the park, but not only that you can actually see out to the water. You can see around the city. It really is an exceptional experience,” said Comiskey.

Visitors will have to climb about 120-steps to get a view of San Diego, but for those who can’t, large television screens at the entrance will project real time views from the tower.

The exhibitions at the museums change periodically.

“For 2015 they really went all out and have built their programming up to be really great traveling exhibitions. Also, a lot of new construction in the exhibit areas themselves,” he said.

Exhibitions will be launched throughout the year.

“Those who are just visiting San Diego, we know they’re going to have a great day in Balboa Park. For those who live in San Diego, there’s no way you could do all the exhibitions and programs in a day, or a week. This is a way they have all year. It’s gonna be a wonderful experience,” he added.

There is construction going on, but the exhibits scheduled to open January first will open on time.

“The philosophy of the cultural partnership is that we really want to establish the ground work for the next 100 years. There’s a fantastic year of exhibitions that people should really experience and they shouldn’t miss it,” he said.

This will not be the grand international vision that former Mayor Bob Filner could not pull off.

In fact, his lack of oversight caused the original centennial committee to disband, and he soon imploded himself.

Mayor Faulconer was able to bring folks back to reality and said San Diego would celebrate themselves.

No doubt the celebration will draw tens of thousands of visitors to San Diego filling up hotel rooms, restaurants and other city attractions, and about 80% of the hotel tax money will go to the city.

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