City Offers ‘Seed Money’ to Calabasas Pioneer Pageant


Impressed by the success of a yearly pageant commemorating the passing of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza through what is now Calabasas, the city has donated $4,000 to this year’s event.

“They told us that this is seed money, and if we make money, then we have to pay it back,” said Juliana Gensley, who created the pageant.

The 10th annual Juan Bautista de Anza Pageant will be held Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. in Malibu Creek State Park, off Las Virgenes Road. In 1776, De Anza, who was leading 240 settlers from Mexico to what is now San Francisco, camped in a spot where the Ventura Freeway and Las Virgenes Road now meet.


The trip is considered an outstanding success in the annals of pioneer history for being exceptionally well planned, pageant organizers say. Only one person, a woman who was in labor, was lost.

In 1990, Congress designated the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail--a portion of which runs through Calabasas--as a national historic trail. A new park planned for Calabasas will be named after the explorer.

During the pageant, actors play the roles of De Anza and others, said Gensley, who is seeking volunteers such as actors, sound engineers and costume designers. She is also seeking sponsors, video camera operators, poster makers, and others. Those wishing to help should call her at (818) 222-4617.

For the past few years, De Anza has been portrayed by Rod Bergen, a businessman and actor. “It’s very exciting,” said Bergen, who will play De Anza again this year. “This man exemplifies things which I think are very characteristic of our country.”

Organizers have vowed to increase attendance at the event, which usually draws about 200, said spokeswoman Stephanie Abronson.

“This is the first year that we have picked up a monetary sponsor,” she said. “That tells us that we’re getting better.”


Attendees are advised to bring picnic lunches because no food will be sold. There is a $5 parking fee for Malibu Creek State Park.