Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club’s fourth annual Lobster Festival a success
By Andrea Papagianis
On Saturday evening as the sun set on Doheny State Beach, hundreds gathered around Maine lobster tails at the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club’s fourth annual Lobster Fest—the organizations most successful event to date, in its 28-year existence.
The annual fundraising event sold out early on, with more than 600 tickets sold, up from last year’s 400 attendees, said Alan Wickstrom, president of the local rotary. This year, the club set a fundraising goal of $40,000 and as numbers from ticket and beverage sales, silent auction bids and game purchases flowed in, Wickstrom said it appears the goal will be surpassed.
Funds from the surf and turf feast go on to support the club’s adopted organizations like the Ocean Institute, the Shea Center for Therapeutic Riding, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley and the South Orange County School of the Arts, all serving area youth.
Pacific Region Youth of the Year winner, Yossymar Rojas, who is now competing for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier honor, was presented with a $6,000 scholarship from donors like the Rotary Club and Dana Point Chamber of Commerce.
Rojas, a Dana Hills High School graduate and a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley, is up against five other regional winner for the National Youth of the Year award. Along with the honor comes a $15,000 scholarship and the chance to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Barack Obama.
We caught up with Wickstrom after the event to get his thoughts on this year’s Lobster Festival.
Dana Point Times: You sold out early on and cut off ticket purchases at the door, has this happened in year’s past?
Alan Wickstrom: “We have never sold out a Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club fundraising event before, so this was a first. It seems like the Dana Point Lobster Fest is now the hot ticket for the summer … and next year will be even bigger and better.”
DPT: How many volunteers go into putting an event like this on?
AW: “Over 115 volunteers donated their time to put on our fourth annual fundraising event. Of those 115 volunteers, 20 of them were Rotarians from the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club and 95 were from the Dana Hills High School Interact Club, National Charity League (both the Laguna and Monarch Beach chapters), the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley and other volunteer friends of the Rotary.”
DPT: Were you able to meet your fundraising goal this year?
AW: “Our fundraising goal was to reach $40,000 and our early numbers show we have far exceeded this amount thanks to all the wonderful folks who attended and sponsored our Lobster Fest. However, we won’t have the final fundraising financials for another week or two.”
DPT: What does it mean to be able to lend support to charitable organizations focused on helping the youth in the community?
AW: “The youth are our future and Rotary’s programs for students and youth can change the lives of those we invest in and mentor. With Rotary, it’s not just about donating money, but to mentor and volunteer with the charitable organizations and individual youths we support to instill ethics and goodwill, while having fun and a good time. Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self,” and we take this mission very seriously.”