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West Marine's grand opening party in Newport Beach had something for everyone

West Marine’s “Cruising for a Cause” grand opening party in Newport Beach

It was quite the opening as more than 600 marine lovers gathered for the grand opening of West Marine at Via Lido Plaza in Newport Beach. President/CEO Matt Hyde was proud to say the 27,000 square-foot store was the second largest of the 290 West Marine stores in the U.S. and the largest on the West Coast. Brimming with more than 18,000 products, I can see why.

With great flourish, local city officials, including Mayor Keith Curry and Council members Mike Henn and Ed Selich, officiated over a City Proclamation and ribbon cutting with West Marine representatives, including store manager Chris Beckwith, just prior to the doors opening. The opening party, dubbed “Cruising for a Cause,” was offered as a fundraiser by the generous retailer for nine Orange County marine-related charities. The nonprofits included The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Orange Coast College Professional Mariners Program, Surfrider, UC Irvine Sailing Association, Newport Harbor Sailing Foundation, Aloha Kai Research Foundation, Newport Aquatic Center, Balboa Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing Program, and Friends of Rollo. The nonprofits offered pamphlets of information, mugs, t-shirts, etc. to partygoers, with all ticket proceeds divided between the charities.

Suzanne’s Catering offered tasty tray-passed appetizers throughout the three-hour fundraiser, while the Reef Brothers entertained and a beautiful hula dancer and guitarist from Da Hula Studio in Diamond Bar won applause with their grace and expertise. A live auction, hosted by Captain Aleks from Bravo’s hit show Below Deck, saw the handsome “captain” lose his shirt! Yes, he auctioned it off, and two ladies, Sindy Godfrey and Lisa Klasky, bought it for $250. A stunning orange McLaren 12C Coupe from McLaren Newport Beach was auctioned for a weekend, and Stanley Seidletz from Costa Mesa won it with a bid of $1,600. He was a very happy man!

Needless to say, the attendees, which included sailors, anglers, paddlers, cruisers and water lovers, loved the party. Besides the normal boating supplies and accessories, they found a plethora of gear, apparel and footwear to enjoy for recreational time around the water. You could spend days in the store and never see it all. It has everything a mariner could possibly need!

Selected photos by Peggy O’Donnell