CITYFEST: Another year of history…
With over a century of history, Hillcrest continues to take strides with monumental accomplishments to be recognized as one of San Diego’s oldest and most accepting communities. In the last year alone, the neighborhood welcomed the addition of Harvey Milk Street after the famously known civil rights hero along with the hoisting of a rainbow flag to represent unity and speak to equality in America.
It all began in 1940 with a group of female shopkeepers. Suspended above the heart of Hillcrest at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Avenue, these merchants gave to their community the Hillcrest sign which decades later would come to be a symbol known by all. After many years of life, the condition of the sign began to ware and it took the initiative of community members and business owners to bring life and light back to the sign. Contractors proposed offers of their services in the bid war for the refurbishment of the sign. The California Neon Company put up the best bid and was chosen to rebuild the sign in its entirety for a mere $4,000.
In 1984 through community, activism and dedication, the effort brought on by neighborhood residents to repair the fabulous Hillcrest sign laid the foundation for the spirit of Hillcrest we know today. The sign was re-erected once more on Saturday August 18th and was celebrated two weeks later on August 26th which marked the first ever festivity we now call CityFest. It was this celebration, 30 years ago that the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) sponsored the proudly named “Hillcrest Sign Celebration and Street Fair” in honor of the new monument.
Last year, not only did Hillcrest celebrate its 29th annual CityFest, but it marked the 90th anniversary of the HBA and the celebration of the Hillcrest business community coming to re-vamp the Hillcrest Sign once again. It was decided by the HBA’s Beautification Committee, headed by Crest Café owner, Cecelia Moreno that there be a transition to LED lighting to save on future repairs of the sign. In just one year, the community has saved approximately 40% of energy costs. In a decade, in the year 2022 the HBA and the Hillcrest community will have saved over $5,000 in maintenance costs.
Since 1984 the HBA has hosted CityFest during the month of August boasting the most spirited street festival in all of San Diego. Hillcrest locales join neighboring San Diego visitors and beyond to celebrate the sign and welcome the spirit of Hillcrest for a daylong celebration. But the party doesn’t stop there. Following the day’s events of live music, artisans and crafters, rides and water slides, and our signature beer garden in the urban streets of Hillcrest; at 8pm, CityFest will welcome a new component to the festival, CityFest by night. A spectacular evening inspired event will commence for the kick-off of our first-ever dance party at dusk. Beautiful lights and people from all around will dance under the luminous Hillcrest sign to the sounds of Hillcrest’s best known DJs.
The HBA would like to thank its Board of Directors for their commitment to the business district, HillQuest and the Hillcrest History Guild for providing the lush history made available for this article, and the CityFest sponsors that allow this festival to thrive: Scripps, Miller-Coors, Nika Water, Stoli, The Commission for Arts and Culture, Starbucks Via, Huawei, Comerica Bank, California Fruit Wine, Gay San Diego, The City of San Diego, San Diego CityBeat, SDGLN.com, SDPix, and San Diego Uptown News.
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