Who sends postcards nowadays? Yet they were part of my growing years and beyond. Intended to freeze in time the moment our loved ones had visited a place they wished to share, they arrived on the wings of their affection.
As one of the festivities to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Tijuana, Postales de Tijuana or Postcards de Tijuana is the re-opening of Teatro Zaragoza on July 18. It was one event I didnʼt want to miss. The south-east square block at Mutualismo and 4th downtown Tijuana had been cordoned off. An antique car show in front of the theater and ushers in 20ʼs costumes set the tone for a nostalgia filled evening. Built in 1921, the historic edifice functioned as a theater from 1944 until the early 60ʼs when it served as a cinema until the 70ʼs when it closed down.
Intermittent attempts at restoration started in the late 90ʼs when state and local governments, recognizing the legacy value of the building, allocated funding.
Aside from the mayor and his retinue of dignitaries, many people who had grown up or lived in the Mutualismo district were among the 1000 people in attendance.
Postales de Tijuana is an inter-disciplinary, multimedia presentation staged against a backdrop of old photos or postcards of Tijuana. Commercials spanning three decades punctuated by laughter and applause from the audience were played while several dance groups showcased each era. Emotional testimonials of the heydays of the theater, delivered by local octogenarians, were threaded through the program.
Recognition reached fever pitch for the performance of iconic Tijuana native artists like singers Ginny Silva and Clayton, and guitarist Javier Batiz who oddly enough performed American songs of those decades to thunderous applause, reminding me our border is culturally porous.
The Tijuana Opera who sponsored Postales was represented by mezzo soprano Ana Laura Rojas in the interpretation of La Habanera, and tenor Manuel Paz Vereda Tropical made me wish I had not missed this yearʼs street opera productions. Gustavo Valdez, a virtuoso alto saxophonist, directed his orchestra, Tikoʼs Big Band, throughout the show. They can be heard every weekend in downtown Parque Teniente Guerrero.
Being accompanied by Tijuana-born friends who, through their experiences during those decades, made me feel very happy to be part of the mix. We capped the evening with a picture taking session behind the zebra donkey brought there as a reminder that Tijuana is a moveable feast.
It certainly was an evening to remember. The proceeds from the ticket sale will be used to purchase some 1200 seats. No one is saying when that will take place.