As Forever Balboa Park celebrates its six-month anniversary, we are gratified to see the park once again filled with visitors of all ages and enlivened by ongoing improvement projects. Despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, people continue to find solace, social connection, beauty, and wellbeing within the boundaries of Balboa Park—thanks to the joint efforts of Parks and Recreation, the diverse organizations that make up the Balboa Park community, and all of you.
Many of you have shown your gratitude for Balboa Park in a multitude of ways—through spontaneous feedback, through regular visits, through volunteer service, through thoughtful donations. We admire and appreciate you for all you do to enjoy and enhance San Diego’s crown jewel.
The staff and volunteers of Forever Balboa Park have been thrilled to serve the park in 2021 through our projects and programs, including:
- Continued restoration and operation of the historic Balboa Park Carousel.
- Sustaining park traditions by hosting the 35th Annual Poinsettia Display in the Botanical Building, Plant It Forward, and appreciation events for Parks and Rec staff.
- Regular monitoring and planting of trees, with Tree Stewards now assigned to every quadrant of the park and multiple tree planting events held in partnership with schools and businesses. In fact, tree stewards now monitor 816 trees in the park (up 186 since the merger), and in Forever Balboa Park’s first six months, 49 volunteer Tree Stewards invested 731 service hours.
- Ongoing care and nurturing of public gardens with trained Garden Stewards, expert Rose Garden volunteers, and youth programs and valued partners. In the first six months of Forever Balboa Park, 53 volunteer Garden Stewards worked more than 80 different shifts for a total of 3,331 service hours, including four in Adopt-a-Plot Gardens.
- Constant assistance to thousands of individuals and groups seeking their own special Balboa Park experience. At the Visitor Center, 90 volunteers and park ambassadors helped 310,081 visitors during 7,429 service hours in 2021.
Over the past six months, we have also worked to unify the strengths of our two predecessor organizations and to maximize our collective positive impact. At Forever Balboa Park, we have integrated our business functions and staff and are in the final stage of our search for a CEO. We have reviewed our planned projects and past programs in depth and have established a shared process for planning, evaluating, and implementing projects and programs going forward, in coordination with Parks and Rec. We have introduced a new brand and look forward to the renewal of our website and strategic plan with leadership and inspiration from our new CEO.
In the next six months, you will see more signs of progress, including initiation of Phase I of the Botanical Building and Gardens restoration, funded by the state and city, new signage and wayfinding on the West Mesa, a new Forever Balboa Park Trail Steward volunteer corps, as well as inclusive park activation efforts that emphasize collaboration, fun, and safety. And soon, we will celebrate the Balboa Park Carousel’s 100th anniversary.
Exciting times are ahead. We are thankful for your interest, involvement, and support as Forever Balboa Park continues to learn and grow—and wish you the very best for 2022!
2021 Year in Review: Merged and Making Strides
Last year was a historic year for Balboa Park in more ways than one. Two major park advocacy groups, Friends of Balboa Park and the Balboa Park Conservancy, completed their planned merger to form Forever Balboa Park, joining forces for the betterment of the park. An extensively renovated Balboa Park Carousel was unveiled, later officially designated a Historical Resource by the city. A new eco-friendly viewing platform for the iconic Moreton Bay fig tree welcomed visitors in late spring, and the new Garden Stewards initiative launched. See more details in our complete Year in Review below.