South County's Friendship Park Celebrates 50 Years
Fifty years ago Wednesday, then-first lady Pat Nixon visited the westernmost end of the U.S.-Mexico border where San Diego meets Tijuana.
Nixon then inaugurated the surrounding area as Border Field State Park.
The County Board of Supervisors recognized the day by declaring Aug. 18, 2021, International Friendship Day.
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John Fanestil, executive director of Via International, says the park has long served as a meeting place where people can hug their loved ones through the border fence, but in recent years border patrol restrictions have increased.
“It’s not an inviting place on the U.S. side at all, that needs to change,” Fanestil said.
People aren't able to gather like they used to. Local advocates are hoping to restore Friendship Park back to its true purpose.
They also have a vision to eventually create an open binational park.
Jim Brown with Public Architecture says a similar park already exists on the Canadian border.
“We have envisioned an 80-acre binational park; 40 acres on each side of the border,” Brown said.
“We believe it’s time to send a message to our citizens and to our governments. This would be a wonderful thing to have instead of the militarized situation that is on the border currently,” he said.
Friends of Friendship Park has a list of events happening this week to celebrate the park's anniversary. For more information visit Friendshippark50.org