Raves for day to save the waves

From its morning Chumash Indian blessing to the afternoon kids conference to the evening gala, The Surfrider Foundation last Thursday celebrated conservation with a mixture of activism, education and fun.

The Third Annual “Save the Malibu Day” kicked off at 7 a.m. with a traditional sage-burning ceremony near Surfrider beach.

While the beach is a coastal gem, it also is one of the organization’s biggest concerns. It remains one of the most polluted areas in the Santa Monica Bay, consistently earning failing grades on water report cards.

Environmentalists blame discharge from the Tapia Wastewater Treatment Facility, which they say overwhelms Malibu creek, the lagoon and surrounding waters.

“Our goal is to see zero discharge from Tapia in this creek,” asserted Surfrider’s Michael Wisner. “It can be done through diversion and water recycling programs.”

Another goal of Surfrider is to increase public awareness, starting with local kids. Dozens of school-age youngsters came out to the lagoon to enjoy a sparkling beach day and learn a little bit about their backyard environment.

There were various exhibits, interactive experiments and seaside hikes. Of course, having a celebrity on hand doesn’t hurt either.

Ed Begley Jr., who left the electric car back at his solar powered home, arrived at the conference on his bicycle, showing kids how one person can make a difference.

“We wanted to give the kids an introduction to this place and show them what they can do,” Wisner explained.

The kids conference is a first for Surfrider’s “Save the Malibu Day.” After assessing last year’s event, the local chapter decided to include the younger set in its outreach efforts.

“We basically looked at our mission statement and realized we had to do a better job in terms of educating our community,” said co-chair Jeff Duclos. The organization has decided make the conference a part of its annual event from now on.

The day was topped off by an only-in-Malibu style fund-raiser where the guys wore Hawaiian shirts and Day-Glo jams and girls sported everything from pearls and sweatshirts to cocktail dresses with puka shells. Looking like they were on a casting call for “Beach Blanket Bingo,” the guests sipped pink drinks, strolled the grounds of the Adamson House and placed bids on items in the silent auction.

There was a “Save the Malibu Day” proclamation made by Mayor Walt Keller, the presentation of a Dewey Weber Commemorative Surfboard and a gift of $5,000 that will go to the Malibu Watershed Project.

After a gourmet seaside buffet, singer Jackson Browne tuned up the acoustic guitar and serenaded the crowd with his classic “Rock Me on the Water.” With the sun setting on the Pacific and dozens of surfers bobbing in the waves behind, it proved to be an appropriate selection.

“We hope that there will come a time when we don’t need a Save the Malibu Day,” Duclos told the gathering. “We hope that one day we can say that our mission has been accomplished.”

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