Universal City : History Buffs Reenact Mexican Surrender

Mexican Gen. Andres Pico handed his sword over to Lt. Col. John C. Fremont on Sunday, once again surrendering his troops to the American.

“I wish to begin this peace by surrendering my personal arms,” said Pico, who was actually Roland Barajas, an actor from Westminster. “For we all long for peace. There is plenty of bounty in this land of California for all.”

Fremont, who was actually John Sanders, a school district police officer in Baldwin Park, handed back the sword after the surrender of Mexican forces to send the message that this would be a peace with honor ending the Mexican-American War in California.

The two men played their roles Sunday surrounded by other historical characters dressed in buckskins and period uniforms at Campo de Cahuenga, the site where the real Pico surrendered on Jan. 13, 1847. About 150 people attended Sunday’s reenactment on the small patch of land across from Universal Studios that often goes unnoticed on Lankershim Boulevard.

“This is the best-kept secret in the United States,” said Guy Weddington McCreary, president of the Campo de Cahuenga Historical Memorial Assn.


“I didn’t know until three years ago that this place existed,” said Dale Himebaugh, a Burbank aerospace worker who led a color guard in the uniform of the 1st U.S. Dragoons. The dragoons were a predecessor to the U.S. Cavalry, said Himebaugh, a history hobbyist.

“I love history,” said Dave Kanawah of Garden Grove, wearing the elk skins typical of his character, Army scout Kit Carson. To the casual observer, Kanawah might have looked the part except for his beard and mustache. The real Kit Carson was clean shaven. “And I’m at least a foot taller than him,” said the six-four Kanawah.

The original surrender by Mexican forces brought about the American goal of Manifest Destiny--that the United States reach the Pacific Ocean. But movie producer Ray Herbeck Jr. of Hacienda Heights, who helped recruit many of Sunday’s living history performers, questioned the motives behind that concept.

“Today we can say it was a wrong policy, but then again, can we say the results were wrong?”