I’m not sure where my love for animals came from. We had the usual dogs and cats growing up. In my teenage years, I grew fond of cocker spaniels. I bought one from a breeder. I didn’t have much knowledge of adopting back in the 60 and 70s but only knew of breeders. I had five cockers in all throughout my adult life: gold, black, red, tri- color, and red and white.
In 1993, I lived in Newport Beach when the horrible fires broke out in Laguna Beach. I moved to Laguna Beach in 1995 and in 1997 when the terrible rains and mud slides came, it basically flooded all of Laguna Beach and Laguna Canyon. All three animal facilities were flooded out and severely damaged. They were the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and the Blue Bell Cat Foundation.
One day my friend Larry Wilson and I were talking about doing something to help raise money for these facilities as they needed so many repairs. Larry had just adopted a greyhound named Maui and had a great love for dogs. We brain-stormed and came up with a chili cook off and pet parade. So in 1997, the first annual Laguna Beach Pet Parade and Chili Cook Off was born.
Throughout the next 15 years, we raised approximately $225,000 for those three groups, and we became the largest family event in Laguna Beach averaging upwards of 400 to 500 people and 100 animals each year.
We created five categories changing them throughout the years as we would see few sign ups in categories such as owner lookalikes. We ended up with the perfect fit: Most Handsome Male, Prettiest Female, Best Costume, the Most Beautiful Rescue, and the Most Gorgeous Senior Pet (12 years and older). This seemed to satisfy all animal owners. I say “animal” because this was not just for dogs — We had cats, birds, rats, ducks, guinea pigs, and pot-belly pigs.
I returned to Coronado in November of 2011 and started noticing that Coronado was a very animal/dog-friendly town, and it seemed that there were more dogs than people here. So it was a no-brainer that this event would fit well into this community. I found out who the local animal charities were here and gave them a call. I met with them to see if this would be a good fit for my event. Of course it was, and then I was off to get all the players in place. First on the agenda was to see who might be the sponsor of this event. Being that I am a real estate agent, it only seemed fit to approach CREA (Coronado Real Estate Association). They loved the idea and so off I went. I met with Mayor Tanaka to invite him to be a judge for our event. I was thinking since he had just adopted a dog, he would make a great pet judge. But because of his love for food so he said, he also wanted to be a chili judge…love that. He loved this idea of the event and shared it with the city manager, Blair King. Blair also thought it was great and offered to co-sponsor with the Coronado Real Estate Association. Music to my ears, they donated the location of Promenade Park as the venue — perfect location and perfect place to hold our event. We confirmed the date of October 8, 2012 — This was a Monday and a holiday which meant kids were out of school and so we went for it.
In the meantime, I strategically picked judges for the pets and the chili — people that are highly respected in our community and that have a love for animals and chili. The chili judges were Police Chief Lou Scanlon, Fire Chief Mike Blood, Susan Keith, Mayor Casey Tanaka, and gourmet chef/cookbook author Jill O’Connor. The pet judges were Mayor Casey Tanaka, Dean Echenroth (owner/publisher of The Eagle/Journal), Councilwoman Barbara Denny, Leslie Crawford (Welcome to Coronado web site), and Melanie Parks (Wag ‘n’ Tails).
We had a beautiful day for our first event. 200 people showed up to taste six different chili recipes, browse through the vendor booths, and participate in the pet parade. We had 73 dogs and 2 cats enter the pet parade. We brought in proceeds of over $20,000 for the event. We presented a check to PAWS of Coronado in the amount of $14,000. A great day and event was had by all. Next year will be on Sunday, September 22, 2013 — Save the date!
Presenting Sponsor : Lynne Harpst Koen Family
The Coronado Real Estate Association and The City of Coronado….benefiting PAWS of Coronado Gold Sponsors:
Coronado Lifestyle Magazine
Coronado Brewery Company
Sharon Lynn Sherman (Attorney at law)
Willis Allen Real Estate
Park Life Real Estate
Lee Mather Co. Realty
Del Coronado Realty..Ruth Ann Fisher
Michelle Adcock, First American Home Warranty
La Jolla Termite & Pest Control