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Joining me at Crystal Cove Alliance's 12th Annual Gala, "Back to the Bluff," was the nonprofit's Founder and Director of External Affairs Laura Davick

Joining me at Crystal Cove Alliance’s 12th Annual Gala, “Back to the Bluff,” was the nonprofit’s Founder and Director of External Affairs Laura Davick

There wouldn’t be a Crystal Cove Alliance without Laura Davick. She founded CCA, the official nonprofit partner of Crystal Cove State Park, in 1999. After spending summers as a child with her family in the cottages along the sand, she was determined to stop a planned luxury resort from overtaking the area, so she rescued the historic site and initiated one of the most public-private partnership models in the history of the California State Park system. And, of course, that wasn’t enough for this enlightened lady. She is determined to stay involved with CCA until all the historic cottages are renovated and made available to the public for getaways at the beach (so far, CCA has raised enough money to restore 29 of the 46 historic beachfront cottages).

The gala was to be “Back to the Beach” this year – the gala theme – but, unfortunately, Hurricane Marie’s 20+foot waves took away six feet of sand, and it was “Back to the Bluff” instead. Even so, it was a lovely setting very close to the waves on a warm, late summer night, with the sold-out event attracting nearly 400 guests taking to heart the suggestion of ‘resort attire.’ I thought Beth K. Shields won the prize for the best resort dress. She looked fabulous – see her photo.

As the sun was slowly setting, guests enjoyed cocktails (loved the “Locally-grown Jalapeño Skinny Margarita!“) and hors d’oeuvres presented by Montage Laguna Beach, while perusing a very tempting silent auction. You could bid on upscale wines, wonderful oil paintings of the historic cottages, sports items, dining offerings, travel opportunities and even a Mermaid’s Birthday Party for 12 centered around a book called “Crystal’s Cove” mermaid book, written by Carol Robinson.

Dinner was in a most unusual topless tent, which was open to the beautiful star-filled night sky, with images of the iconic cottages splashed on the tent’s walls. The delicious three-course feast was catered by the gala’s Title Sponsor, The Resort at Pelican Hill, and orchestrated by its Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray. Davick, in her welcoming remarks acknowledged the resort’s longtime partnership and introduced its much-loved Managing Director Giuseppe Lama. She thanked all the gala underwriters and sponsors, in particular, Tourbillon Omega, who was listed as the gala’s “Exclusive Jewelry and Watch Sponsor.” Omega’s US President Gregory Swift and South Coast Plaza’s Tourbillon Boutique Manager Aimee Richter were present.

Davick cut to the chase by stating the nonprofit’s passionate commitment to its mission of restoration, conservation and education. As to restoration, Davick said, “For the past two years, we have been working on plans and permits and the necessary tools that we need from State Parks to successfully launch the restoration of the final 17 cottages.” Concerning education, she said, Crystal Cove is now a laboratory for developing innovative, education programs. Already established is the Berns Environment Study Loop, an off-shore underwater park, and, the newest program, the Citizen Science Cruises, which last year hosted 2,000 students. Overall, Crystal Cove serves more than 30,000 K-12 students each year, a fact that Crystal Cove’s President/CEO Harry Helling stated later in the evening. Pretty impressive! And, finally, conservation. Davick stated, “We want to study and better understand not just the impacts on our environment here at Crystal Cove, but to apply what is learned here to better protect our oceans and what little open space that we have left in California.”

Live auction auctioneer DawnMarie Kotsonis stirred the pot with her fun interaction with guests to encourage bidding on some awesome auction items. How about an exclusive three-night stay for six people in Cottage #14, or what they call the “South Beach Suite?” It sold for $3,500! Other prizes prompting some fierce bidding included several Montage offerings at Montage Laguna Beach, Montage Kapalua Bay and Montage Deer Valley. There was also a two-night stay in a villa at Pelican Hill Resort, a Passage West2 Luxury Yacht excursion, which sold twice at $10,000, and a stunning Omega Ladymatic timepiece and dinner for 12 at the Tourbillon Boutique.

The Beach Toys band enticed guests to the dance floor, performing a lot of The Beach Boys’ songs. Spirits were high! And, when all was said and done, more than $300,000 was raised for Crystal Cove Alliance. As Davick so succinctly put it, “It’s a place to find solace and quality of life for future generations. We’ve come a long way in 15 years!” Here! Here!