The annual Swallows Day celebration and parade took place on Saturday, March 25, after several years of COVID-19 restrictions and an equine disease that minimized the festivities. Enthusiastic spectators came out to watch the parade and enjoy the traditional San Juan Capistrano events.“The theme for this year’s parade is Back in the Saddle Again,” said Jim Taylor, a volunteer with the San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association which organized the event.

A big highlight each year is the children of Mission Basilica School who’ve participated in the Swallows Day parade since its inception in the 1930s, said Alycia Beresford, M.Ed., principal of the Mission Basilica School in San Juan Capistrano. And the children take their roles in the parade seriously.

“First grade students dress as swallows and walk with a ‘swallows’ nest’ and are accompanied by our kindergarten ‘munks,’” said Beresford.

Swallows Day originated with the springtime arrival of migrating cliff swallows at the Mission San Juan Capistrano in the early 1920s. A priest named Fr. John O’Sullivan supposedly told the swallows they were welcome at Mission San Juan Capistrano and would be protected there. Each year when the swallows returned during their migration route, local residents rejoiced.

Now, about 100 years later, not many swallows arrive (they’re able to find protection elsewhere), but the celebration continues, as Saturday’s crowds — who arrived on foot, by car and by train —demonstrated.

Full story at OC Catholic.