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In photos: Friendship Park supporters celebrate its 51st anniversary

Border Wall Fence Tijuana
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
People read the names painted on the Mexican side of the border wall in Playas de Tijuana, August 20, 2022.

Friends of Friendship Park celebrated 51 years since the park's inauguration last weekend.

Border Wall Fence
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Beach goers in Playas de Tijuana play next to the border wall jutting into the sea, August 20, 2022.

"We're celebrating the past — because of 51 years. We are celebrating the present: by the work and the events that are happening. But we are also thinking about the future. And the future is not: fenced off, more border walls that preclude the safe and secure coming together of people and families and community and culture."
Assemblymember David Alvarez (D-80)
Border Wall
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Two women peer into the United States through the border fence between Tijuana, Mexico and Imperial Beach, CA, August 20, 2022.
Tijuana Music
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Musicians play traditional Mexican style of Musica Son Jarocho in Playas de Tijuana at the Mexican side of the international park Friendship Park for its 51 anniversary, August 21, 2022.

On the Tijuana side, the celebration included workshops on native plants, a Kumeyaay ceremony, and a free concert from guitarist Javier Batiz.

Border wall fence
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Two people look across the border into Mexico from Imperial Beach CA, August 20, 2022.
Friendship Park
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Activists set out 150 empty chairs at Friendship Park in Imperial Beach during the park's 51 anniversary. The chairs are meant to symbolize "Thousands of people on both sides of the border would be able to enjoy this site if it were allowed to serve the purpose for which it was designed" according to organizers, August 20, 2022.

But on the U.S. side, the park has remained closed since February 2020.

Border Chairs
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Activists set out 150 empty chairs, facing into Mexico, at Friendship Park in Imperial Beach during the park's 51 anniversary. The chairs are meant to symbolize "Thousands of people on both sides of the border would be able to enjoy this site if it were allowed to serve the purpose for which it was designed" according to organizers, August 20, 2022.
Border Chairs
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Activists set out 150 empty chairs, facing into Mexico, at Friendship Park in Imperial Beach during the park's 51 anniversary, each of the chairs was sponsored by a community member, August 20, 2022.

Activists set out 150 empty chairs facing into Tijuana.

border chairs
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Activists set out 150 empty chairs, facing into Mexico, at Friendship Park in Imperial Beach during the park's 51 anniversary, each of the chairs was sponsored by a community member, August 20, 2022.

The chairs were meant to symbolize that "thousands of people on both sides of the border would be able to enjoy this site if it were allowed to serve the purpose for which it was designed" event organizers said.

Border signs
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
At Friendship Park's 51st anniversary, activists plant signs in the sand facing across the Mexican border into Playas de Tijuana, Imperial Beach, August 20, 2022.
Border wall fence woman
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Tow woman walk along the Mexican side of the border wall in Playas de Tijuana, August 20, 2022.
Border Fence Wall
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
The border wall between Mexico and the United states meets its western terminus as it runs into the sea in Imperial Beach California, August 20, 2022.
Border agent
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
A Customs and Border Protection agent sits watch on the American side of Friendship Park for the park's 51st anniversary, Imperial Beach, August 20, 2022.
Border Fence
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Photographs made by Maria Teresa Fernandez are displayed on the American side of the binational park, Friendship Park, for its 51st anniversary, August 20, 2022.
Border Wall Fence Tijuana
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Looking North in the United States at some graffiti through the first border fence from Playas de Tijuana, August 20, 2022.
Supporters of Friendship Park marked the 51st anniversary of its inauguration on Saturday.

Matthew Bowler is an award-winning journalist from San Diego. Bowler comes from a long line of San Diego journalists. Both his father and grandfather worked as journalists covering San Diego. He is also a third generation San Diego State University graduate, where he studied art with a specialty in painting and printmaking. Bowler moved to the South of France after graduating from SDSU. While there he participated in many art exhibitions. The newspaper “La Marseillaise” called his work “les oeuvres impossible” or “the impossible works.” After his year in Provence, Bowler returned to San Diego and began to work as a freelance photographer for newspapers and magazines. Some years later, he discovered his passion for reporting the news, for getting at the truth, for impacting lives. Bowler is privileged to have received many San Diego Press Club Awards along with two Emmy's.
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