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San Clemente Journal

Ocean Festival Memories

May 05, 2006 09:58AM ● By Don Kindred
In the summer of 1981, I was living in Mission Viejo. My friend Fred suggested we go to the beach in San Clemente and meet up with his friend Christy. It was the weekend of the Ocean Festival so Christy had wandered away from her usual Linda Lane spot to look at sandcastles. But later she returned and we were introduced. 
Less than two years later Christy and I got married. 
- Bill Hart

Jerry Velasco was the longtime emcee of the 
Little Miss Mermaid Competition.

The greatest part of my long involvement in the ocean festival is the many, many great friends I have gained over the years.
- Digging ditches in the sand laying the wire for the sound systems.
- Over-ordering hot dogs and buns (5,000). Joe never worked so hard and walked so far (8 hours) - back and forth from the Fisherman’s restaurant with pots of cooked hot dogs in hot water. The physical effort was even greater than taking care of 3000 turkeys when he was a child.
- Hosting the international lifeguard competition with lifeguards from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
- Picking up tables and chairs to bring to the beach at 5am in the morning.
- Friendships with many of our past lifeguard competitors - Carl Drake, Buddy Belshe, Larry Haines, Bruce Baird, Max Bowman, Dick Hazard. Gordon Gray, Larry Moore, Greg Hulsizer, and Tanya McGarry.
- Hosting the 1986 Southwest Regional Junior lifeguard competitions from 15 chapters in California - 350 junior lifeguards.
-Maryanna Anderson

One of the memories that really sticks with me was during the ocean festival was right around 1979.That particular year the Ocean Festival was hosting the National Doreyman’s competition along with the regular scheduled events. Most agencies had a lot of depth with a vast number of competitors due to the size of their particular agencies i.e. LA county, San Diego, and Newport. San Clemente had one team of two individuals, Al Lava -yen who is now a certified physical therapist in Laguna Niguel and Barney Voorhees who now resides in Palos Verdes. Back then the doreymen would row three laps around the pier, finishing at the shoreline on the south side of the pier. This was discontinued after a couple of years, because several boats were broken apart due to the drift taking the doreys into the pier caused by the heavy south swells of summer time. This particular year the race was extremely close and several boats were neck and neck on each leg of the race. With the aid of binoculars our SC lifeguards watching were amazed to see our bright orange boat adjacent to the number one boat from LA county. There was some fairly serious surf that Sunday and ironically SC actually had some chance of placing in this very competitive sport. As it turned out both the SC and LA county boat caught the same wave and the pier by that time was wall to wall spectators cheering on their favorite teams. As the boats approached the shoreline Al Lav yen jumped off the bow onto the sand running furiously to the finish line .Time stood still for a moment as SC had never won a major race like this before especially against LA county.Just as Al was about to run across the finish line Chief Hazard(since retired) rushes out of the crowd on the beach and tackles Al out of sure excitement and awe that SC actually won a race, the problem being Al had not crossed the finish line yet. It took a couple of guards and Al to break the death grip the chief had on Al who barely crawled on his hands and knees and was able to finish first by about one foot before LA county ran by getting second. It was a hell of a race and the crowd went nuts, it was a great honor for our entire staff and a memory I ‘ll never forget. 
- Richard Chew

Tanya McGary (now Porter). was in pillow hitting contest in 1977.  Tanya worked 14 summers as a lifeguard and was 1982 Miss San Clemente.
Shawn O'Gorman, was at the 1st Ocean Festival, graduated in 1977. He spent five years as a lifeguard. Had swimming record at SCHS - did 500 meter swim & one- mile swim and his son, Cheyne, (13 in 1996) swam 500 meter with him in 1996. 

Nancy Dollar was on track scholarship at Baylor in 1996. Andy Bailey (18 in 1996) at UCLA on water polo scholarship was SCOF competitor.
In 1977 Sandy Groos was the first female lifeguard in San Clemente’s Department of Marine Safety at age 16. She competed in the 500 meter in 1996 just shortly after having an 8lb, 12oz baby boy.