I was recently invited to visit the San Jacinto Valley and the Ramona Bowl courtesy of their tourism board. While I was quite excited about exploring a new destination, I will admit I was a bit hesitant. You see, the San Jacinto Valley requires me to take a drive on the 91. For my non-Southern California friends, just know I avoid the 91 at ALL costs! But after four days in the Valley I will say, 1) It was worth the drive; and 2) I can’t wait to go back!
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While in the San Jacinto Valley I visited the Ramona Bowl and fell in love. Three aspects of the amphitheater drew me in, and now I have this event marked on my calendar for the spring! I place great value on tradition, history and community and the Ramona Bowl is absolutely filled with all three!
Ramona Bowl Tradition
My family will tell you that I am obsessed with tradition! I like being able to look forward to events year after year and building traditions around those events. And the Ramona Bowl is steeped in tradition! The cast is made up of generations of families who participate, and have participated, for the last 90 years. The audience is comprised of families who have made it a tradition to attend together year after year. The volunteers who support the play come back year after year and this event is as much a part of their calendars as national holidays.
History of the Ramona Bowl
Not only is the story of Ramona filled with historical significance, but the amphitheater itself is filled with history. The drama is based on the book by Helen Hunt Jackson who lived a life of tragedy. Ramona was written in the late 1800’s as a fictional love story meant to be so compelling people would not be able to put it down. And in doing so, readers would learn about the injustices being done to Southern California’s native people. But the historical significance doesn’t end with the content of the play! Less than 10 years from the 100th anniversary of the play, the Ramona is the LONGEST running outdoor drama in the nation.
Value of Community
I think this was my favorite part of visiting the Ramona Bowl! Putting on Ramona every year is truly a community effort. The play is powered by hundreds of volunteers from actors to the costume department to those who work on sets to the snake handlers. Yup, you read that correctly! Because this is an outdoor play set in a mountainous hillside they need snake handlers on hand. The snake handlers watch for the cue that indicates there is a snake on set during the play. You can bet that if I was playing a rock Indian I would be nervous that a snake would slither by me and I would interrupt the whole show with my screams!
What is your favorite local community tradition?