SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Sunday, San Diego and Tijuana communities held a binational ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Friendship Park.
“This historic meeting place overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the westernmost end of the U.S.- Mexico border is an important symbol of our friendship with Mexico," San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said during the event.
Friendship Park, which is part of Border Field State Park, was founded by then-First Lady Pat Nixon in 1971.
For many families, it was the only way they could reunite with loved ones separated by the border.
But things have changed since then.
In March of last year, the Department of Homeland Security closed the area in between the fences known as Friendship Circle.
Sunday, Mayor Gloria, as well as Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, and other dignitaries on both sides of the border called for a change to border restrictions.
“What we are here to say is that this park is worthy of celebration and it’s worthy to take the next step to really make it the fully integrated binational venue that it was always intended to be when it was created 50 years ago,” Gloria said.
During the event, the group Friends of Friendship Park unveiled designs to enhance the park as part of their Build That Park campaign.
Plans include tearing down both fences to create a binational city with businesses, restaurants, a pedestrian border crossing, and most importantly 24-hour access to loved ones.
“A celebratory space," said Architect Jim Brown. "A place where people come and be in communion with their friends across the border and we start treating our neighbors to the south as friends, not enemies."
With designs in place, it’s now about gaining support in Washington D.C. and Mexico City to help turn a vision for love and peace into reality.
"Cooperation and friendship is our best and only chance of security between these countries,” Brown said.
The mayor also shared the Build That Park competition is an important part of their binational bid with Tijuana for the 2024 World Design Captial designation. He said winning the bid would help shine a positive light on the binational region.