I admit that San Clemente sits on some pretty decent real estate. Long before Ole’s first red-tiled roof, the natural beauty alone would have made it an ideal place for a community. Natural beaches, surfbreaks, rolling ocean-view hills and a temperate climate made future growth inevitable. But the community San Clemente has become, has less to do with her physical
blessings than it does with the personal contributions of her people.
The San Clemente Ocean Festival is one example. What began as a one-year event during America’s Bicentennial of 1976, has grown into one of our largest annual gatherings. It is a remarkable event, both for its promotion of wholesome, good family fun, and the ability to not only survive battles of economy, weather and other calamities for 30 years, but to thrive, bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars to needy causes.
Like most things that get done around here, it is primarily the work of volunteers. Many of them began donating their time and money to the cause before the last 40,000 of us had even moved in. They took the simple joys of playing at the beach; running, swimming, surfing, building sand castles, and turned them into a family-sized sports festival, growing every year with more and more ways to enjoy our resources at the shore.
The Ocean Festival is a tribute to Volunteerism. Two to three hundred come out every year. One of those volunteers is this issue’s San Clementean, Dorothy Fuller, whose personal contributions have had a strong hand in its development and success. She is an extraordinary citizen who answered a call to public service and continues today to offer her services wherever they are needed.
Lee Van Slyke, another volunteer from the Historical Society, writes in this issue about citizen involvement on a different level, those who have filled our commissions and city councils and have given so much of their time to oversee the planning, directing and implementing of public policy for almost 80 years.
The efforts of those who have bought into this community are apparent in every aspect of it. The otherwise ordinary citizens to whom San Clemente has become more than just a name on an address line. Those whose who have become more than just residents of the village, but custodians of it. The Casa Romantica Cultural Center, The Boys and Girls Club, the Chamber of
Commerce, the Downtown Business Association, the Woman’s Guild, the service clubs, so many organizations, all working because of local caring people who just want to give something back, all sharing an undisclosed understanding, that if we, as her temporary caretakers, can leave her a little better than we found her, San Clemente’s future is secure.
So in your travels, when you’re asked ‘what makes your town so special?’ share the scenes that you must, the golden sun as it sets behind the silloetted pier, the red-tiles that cover the thick spanish walls, the flowered walks through green gardens ... but remember too, the human hands that built this village, and caring people who made it a community.
Don R. Kindred