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By Marla Sherman Balmuth, San Clemente

The recent shocking decision by the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), to cancel the second “annual” IlluminOcean without notice, is an extremely troubling and embarrassing development. It leaves a “black eye” on the city of Dana Point, in the eyes of its residents, visitors and businesses, alike.

I have been a small business owner in the Dana Point Harbor for the past 35+ years and have taken great pride in the wonderful family atmosphere and activities that have been encouraged and provided by the city and County of Orange year-round.

While the summers have traditionally been bustling with visitors from near and far, who choose Dana Point as a vacation destination, the winter months can be pretty tough for the multiple small merchants who remain in the harbor year-round. Thankfully, our locals are primarily the ones who keep us alive each holiday season, as they are keenly aware of the importance of shopping locally and keeping their hard earned money in the community in which they live.

I cannot begin to tell you the level of excitement last year’s IlluminOcean brought to the community throughout the 40 days it was on display for everyone to enjoy. Countless numbers of people expressed their gratitude, pleasure and sense of child-like amazement at the lights, decorations and true sense of the “holiday spirit” alive and well in the harbor, and throughout Dana Point.

It’s a real shame that the very hotels that did such an admirable job putting the IlluminOcean festival and the city of Dana Point on the holiday map, are now turning into the “Grinches who stole Christmas!”

I feel it is incumbent upon the city of Dana Point to come forward—to step up and become the real heroes who can prove once and for all that there really is a Santa Claus.

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