LIVE PERFORMANCE - Water nymphs frolic in the 1919 “Pageant of Fulfillment.” (Discover LOST Gatos)

Summer has arrived, and there’s no shortage of live music for us to enjoy here in Los Gatos, from regularly scheduled Jazz on the Plazz and Music in the Park concerts to special events like the multi-cultural Drums in the Park celebration.

Our tradition of regular summer entertainment began with great fanfare on June 21, 1919. The all-day festivities started with an afternoon band concert in front of the Hotel Lyndon followed by a flag raising by the Boy Scouts. There was a parade to Glen Ridge Avenue to watch an “Automobile Hill Climbing Contest.” A tennis tournament and baseball game were held at the high school, and there were picnics in Bunker Hill Park. The grand finale was the “Pageant of Fulfillment—A Symbolical and Historical Representation in Pageant-Play Form, in Four Movements, With Incidental Music.”

The live evening performance was held at the new Pageant Grounds, a large natural amphitheater behind the original Town Hall on E. Main St. It was the perfect site for elaborately staged theatrical productions. The main stage was on the concrete foundation of the old Los Gatos Cooperative Winery, which burned down in 1888. At 90 feet by 65 feet, it was large enough to accommodate a galloping horse! The San Jose Mercury made special note of the large orchestra pit in front of the stage and described the acoustics as “remarkable.”

SOUVENIR – Official program from “El Gato de Los Gatos.” (Discover LOST Gatos)

The audience was seated under the stars on a gently sloping hill which is now occupied by the Civic Center. Benches made from rough wooden planks were supported by prune boxes, but uncomfortable seating did nothing to diminish an atmosphere of excitement and romance for thousands of people.

Each year’s pageant told a different story, often related to the history of the area. Up to 500 Los Gatos residents were involved, acting and singing on the stage, sewing costumes, building sets, dancing in the chorus, and playing in the orchestra. With a population of only 2,300, each pageant must have been quite a community-wide event.

On a summer evening in 1924, 3,000 people gathered to watch an original pageant

called “El Gato de los Gatos.” It was set on a rancho near Los Gatos in the year 1830,

during the “golden age of the dons.” That idealized and legendary era, when Mexico

ruled California, was a time of fiestas and great hospitality.

As word spread, people including the Governor traveled long distances to Los Gatos just to attend a pageant. The performances became so popular that a movement was started to plan a permanent outdoor theater with bowl-style seating.

Pageants ran for 12 consecutive years, from 1919 to 1930, and then intermittently until 1947 when interest waned. The tradition was revived once, with a special Centennial Pageant in 1987 on the 100th anniversary of the town’s incorporation.

In 2013, as part of the new Los Gatos Library project, the remaining Pageant Grounds were rescued from obscurity and reconstructed for public use as Pageant Park. The small landscaped park (less than half an acre) is easily accessible via a short pathway between the library and Civic Center. It features several picnic tables and benches surrounding a small lawn. You can still see remnants of a lighted waterfall which was powered by a fire hydrant on Cleveland Avenue behind and above the former stage.

Pageant Park is a hidden gem. Grab a book from the library or the Friends bookstore and relax in the tranquility of our newest municipal park.

Content and photos from “Discover LOST Gatos” historical walking tours by Alan Feinberg, Peggy Conaway-Bergtold and Sandy Decker. Download the free mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Contact us at [email protected].

Previous articleWest Valley Youth Theater rocking its way through summer season
Next articleLos Gatos shoe designer Flor de Maria featured in coffee-table book (VIDEO)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here