Dana Point hosts parade of Asian Elephant statues as international event hits American soil for first time
By Andrea Swayne
Artists, event organizers, city officials and the press, on Thursday, were invited to preview the entire herd of elephants soon to grace all corners of Dana Point for Elephant Parade: Welcome to America, an art exhibit and sale to benefit endangered Asian elephants.
Nearly 40 life-sized baby elephant sculptures painted by artists, celebrities and one local student were assembled on the grounds of the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort before moving to Doheny State Beach on Friday for the official opening ceremony.
Welcome speeches by city and county officials, Elephant Parade Ambassador Dana Alan Yarger, and Mike Spits, co-founder of the Asian Elephant Foundation and its marquee fundraising event the Elephant Parade, were followed by a group of St. Regis butlers sabering Champagne bottles to toast the event’s kick-off.
Spits told the audience the story of how is father Marc Spits’ encounter with a baby elephant named Mosha—who lost a leg after stepping on a land mine—inspired the creation of the Elephant Parade.
Mosha had a chance at survival, but only if enough money could be raised to pay for a prosthetic leg. Marc wanted to help but desired to do something more engaging than simply asking donors for money. In 2006 the two founded the Asian Elephant Foundation and its major fundraiser, the Elephant Parade.
Welcoming festivities for the public kick-off this weekend at Doheny State Beach.
Where: Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive
When: Friday, August 23, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The first public gathering of the more than 30 painted Asian Elephant statues will be on display throughout the beachfront state park. Kick starting the 12 weeks of the herd’s parade, artists will be on hand to help attendees of the opening ceremonies paint their own miniature elephants. A showing of the documentary How I Became an Elephant begins at 7:30 p.m. The film is the brainchild of 14-year-old Juliette West who sought to educate the American public on the connection between the plight of elephants in Asian to those domestically in circuses and zoos.
Saturday, August 24, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Some of the nationally and internationally renowned artists taking part in Elephant Parade: Coming to America will be meeting and greeting attendees, to share their work and inspiration for participating in the event. Live music performances will take place throughout the day, and the miniature elephant art workshops will continue all day. Area food trucks will also be on hand.
Sunday, August 2, noon to 6 p.m.
This will be the public’s last chance until November to see all the elephants together before the herd heads out on parade. Festivities and art workshops will continue throughout the day. By Monday, August 26, elephant statues will start popping up throughout town and will be on parade until the beginning of November, when they will be gathered and placed at Lantern Bay Park for a final farewell to Dana Point.
Cost: Entrance to the opening ceremony events is free. Parking at Doheny State Beach is $15 for the day.
Discussion about this post