Week 213: Vincent Lugo Park and Almansor Park

August 09, 2020

Weekend Sherpa LA Discovery Walk: Urban Hike from Vincent Lugo Park to Almansor Park in Los Angeles County, 3.03 miles. 

Barbara and I drove out to San Gabriel for a stroll through Vincent Lugo Park, the city's biggest park and home to the friendliest historic place we've visited so far. La Luna de San Gabriel, also known as Monster Park, is more than just a fun playground for kids. Its fourteen friendly cement sea creatures culminate the life work of Mexican artist Benjamin Dominguez (1894–1974), a master of cement park sculptures, who immigrated to the US in 1956 at the age of 62. Dominguez's sculptures appear in parks in Texas, Nevada, and SoCal, including Beverly Hills. He designed Minnie the Whale, Stella the Starfish, Ozzie the octopus, and dolphins Flipper, Speedy, and Peanut, among others, for the children of San Gabriel when he was 70, his last work and legacy. The whole gang was placed on the California Register of Historic Places in 2009 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. If you're a parent, grandparent, kid at heart, or sculpture aficionado, Monster Park is well worth a happy visit. We hobnobbed with the sea creatures for a while, and then circled the playground along the Alhambra Wash Trail. Following the trail with the wash to our left (the dividing line between the cities of San Gabriel and Alhambra), we exited at Ramona Street and turned left to Adams Avenue where the 18-hole Alhambra Golf Course led us toward our next stop, Almansor Park. Another pretty park but with a completely different personality, Alhambra's Almansor Park is a massive recreational area with gazebos, ponds, and baseball fields. Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner grew up playing baseball on the diamonds here, and Alhambra gave a nod their hometown slugger with a statue off the jogging track. Almansor Park was filled with masked walkers, joggers, exercisers working out at the fitness zones, picnickers, and athletes playing field games. But for us, the park's most entertaining feature was the gaggles of Canadian geese waddling everywhere. They don't get out of your way—you get out of theirs. We followed the track for a while, and then retraced our steps back to the car. Got to give a vote of thanks to the city councils and park supervisors like Vincent Lugo who create green oases like these in our cities. Go visit Minnie, Stella, and Ozzie. They'll make you smile. 


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