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San Clemente Journal

The Spirit of the Ocean Festival

Apr 12, 2023 11:58AM ● By Don Kindred

The Greatest Show on Surf

By Don Kindred, Publisher

  Even after thirty years, I can still see her walking the beach like the first time, in her billowing white blouse and khaki pants. The latter damp from the knees down where she had waded too far into the shoreline. Traditionally donned in a wide-brimmed hat and a scarf that tied just under her chin if the wind was up ... topped off with big white earings and large eyeglasses. She was not to be missed along the sand. Weighted down like a tourist with beach bags crossing her chest bandito style. She’d have one camera around her neck and one up to her face as she scanned the sea and the shore with a matronly pride, snapping her unsteady stream of Kodachrome rolls. 

   As the event publicist, one can imagine that the packed crowd of tanned athletes and water-loving families who had ventured from near and far must have made her smile. 
They came to see her baby of course ... it was after all, the “Greatest Show on Surf.”

   By all accounts, Dorothy Fuller was then and remains today the mothering spirit of the Ocean Festival, even after passing in 2008. I find myself thinking about her now as there is news of the possible demise of her legacy. Not just Dorothy’s of course, but all those who have given their heart and soul to this event over the last five decades. Not to mention the thousands who have competed or watched their children compete as the lifeguard games not only entertained the crowds but also celebrated the cause and the importance of ocean safety in our village by the sea.

   Covid had put the event on hiatus for 2020 and 2021. Now this year’s event has already been cancelled. That’s three out of four. The overtaxed board of directors has dwindled to a 
skeleton crew. And fresh replacements have yet to step up. The organization finds itself in the same boat as many of our other community non-profits. For whatever reason, there has been a declining number of volunteers who are ready and willing to participate in the 
uncompensated-but-strangely-fulfilling realm of community service. 

   It certainly is not just a local phenomenon, it’s a global trend.

I hope the trend is reversible. ‘Research has found that participation in voluntary services is significantly predictive of better mental and physical health, life satisfaction, self-esteem, happiness, lower depressive symptoms, psychological distress, and mortality and functional inability.’ 

   I didn’t make that up, but at least until they have a pill for that, let’s get involved, help each other out and work to be a positive part of this community we call home.

   Many have written that we have seen our greatest generation, and I salute them. But I stand with those who say our best generations may still be ahead of us, that people will 
always believe in traditions, that we will still commit to community service, and continue to feel a basic human responsibility to help where we can.

Best to the Fest,

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