Elephants of today, paint brighter future for Dana Point of tomorrow

Local leaders are joined by co-founder of the Elephant Parade, Mike Spits (left) and the parade’s U.S. ambassador, Dana Yarger (right), at a welcoming of the herd event at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort. The elephant pictured is entitled “Zia Skye” by Laura Inkster. Photo by Andrea Swayne
Local leaders are joined by co-founder of the Elephant Parade, Mike Spits (left) and the parade’s U.S. ambassador, Dana Yarger (right), at a welcoming of the herd event at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort. The elephant pictured is entitled “Zia Skye” by Laura Inkster. Photo by Andrea Swayne

By Scott Schoeffel

If you have been out and about in our beautiful city over the past several weeks you have probably noticed an array of adorable, multi-colored visitors perched throughout our resorts, Harbor, parks and other public areas.

Elephant Parade, the world’s largest support organization for preservation of the Asian elephant, has finally arrived on American soil from previous stops in London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan, Singapore and other major European and Asian cities. Elephant Parade organizers chose Dana Point as this country’s first host city and the city is wholeheartedly embracing its presence.

Scott Schoeffel. File photo
Scott Schoeffel. File photo

The Elephant Parade’s herd of unique and endearing baby elephants has beguiled many of our residents and visitors for weeks now. Delighted onlookers constantly surround them. They good-naturedly pose for photographs with children, families, tourist groups and sometimes just by themselves. Each elephant has a distinct and memorable “personality,” provoking lively debates over personal favorites. They will be here until November 17, when the Elephant Parade will lumber off to ignite the same joy and happiness all over again in another part of the world.

Thus far the Elephant Parade has done much more than provide our city with an amazing open-air, public art exhibit and a pack of lovable new friends to dote upon. It has also helped place Dana Point on the world stage. The Elephant Parade is a truly world-class international event boasting prominent supporters around the globe from business, government, entertainment and the arts.

For a city that stakes much of its prosperity on attracting high quality tourism business from throughout the world, presenting an event of this magnitude and global stature could pay significant dividends for many years to come. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dana Point’s Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID)—as well as the four resort general managers that serve as the TBID’s advisory committee—for making Dana Point the center of this historic occasion.

Most importantly, the Elephant Parade is a major arts and humanitarian experience that is steeped in excellence. Our city’s outstanding reputation makes us the perfect host, and our commitment to the arts and the environment no doubt allowed us the privilege of staging it here. It is a testament to how high the city has elevated its profile in all of these areas that Dana Point was chosen to welcome the Elephant Parade to the United States for the very first time.

Over time, our city’s rising prominence and devotion to excellence should translate into a higher quality of life for our residents, a more robust economic setting for our businesses and a powerful lure for the substantial private investment needed to consummate the Town Center, the OC Dana Point Harbor and Doheny Village revitalization projects.

As the world learns more about Dana Point and its lofty standards through celebrated, first-rate events like the Elephant Parade, the world may be beating a path to our town sooner than any of us imagine. And what a welcome challenge that would be. So, the next time you look into the hopeful and engaging eyes of one of your favorite new elephants, consider that you may be getting a glimpse of our city’s bright future at the same time.

The herd will be gone in November, but not before they have helped pave the way for many excellent tomorrows in Dana Point. As they say, an elephant never forgets, and neither will we.  The best is yet to come.

Scott Schoeffel has been a Dana Point councilman since 2008. Schoeffel is an avid supporter of the arts through his own musical endeavors and outreach on behalf of others’ work.

In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, the DP Times provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the DP Times or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at editorial@danapointtimes.com.

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