Market Matters for Malibu Lions

Incorporated in 1963, the Malibu Lions Club has gone on to do everything from sponsor guide dogs to help make Christmas a little brighter for underprivileged children. Although membership has dwindled over the last several years, the philanthropic club remains as passionate as ever about its annual flea market fundraiser.

Scheduled for Sunday at 9 a.m., the 38th Annual Flea Market will hopefully boost the Malibu Lions’ Club ongoing efforts.

Vendors from all over will be on hand for the Civic Center marketplace, along with food trucks and live entertainment.

The Malibu Lions Club took over the flea market years ago when the Malibu Chamber of Commerce decided to stop organizing it, according to longtime Lions Club member Mark Herron.

Part of the Lions Club International, the Malibu chapter is one of thousands with a mission of bettering their communities, specifically by fighting blindness. The international force totals more than 1.3 million members and over 46,000 chapters — high enough to be deemed the “world’s largest service club organization.”

Herron, who serves as club treasurer and has been with the Lions since 1977, has witnessed a substantial transformation since the local chapter was founded.


“Every Realtor who was anybody was in the Lions Club when they formed, and we met at the old Sea Lion [now Duke’s Restaurant],” Herron said. 

Malibu Sea Lion owner Chris Polos, whose affection was apparently hard to earn, seemed to make an exception for the Malibu Lions.

“We were the only service club that Polos would let in the restaurant, which was rather unusual seeing the way we behaved. He just loved our club.”

Herron has been familiar with the club since its inception but waited many years before joining. 

“I had a friend whose father was one of the original members, Sherman,” Herron recalled. “He asked me to join and I put him off because at the time I was president of the Malibu Little League and it would have been too much. When I got rid of that … I joined the Malibu Lions Club.”

Back then, Little League teams were named after sponsors.

“They didn’t have the ‘Dodgers’ and all that … the Lions had a team, the Optimists had a team, Kiwanis had a team. It’s changed now,” Herron said.

The Lions boasted anywhere from 30 to 50 members in the club’s heyday, but that number is down to about 16, according to Lions Club leaders.

Nonetheless, the Lions have been consistent in their charity work. Their list of causes includes Guide Dogs of America, Camp Bloomfield, Malibu Little League, Malibu Pony League, Malibu High baseball and the L.A. County Fire Department. The Malibu Lions also help sponsor a Christmas party every year at the Malibu West Swim Club for a group of students bused from the San Fernando Valley.

“We give them lunch and we have a Santa Claus that gives each one of them presents,” Herron said. “It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. A lot of these kids have never seen the Pacific Ocean.”

Herron, a 46-year resident of Big Rock, said one Christmas party still resonates with him.

“One little girl one year came over to me and said, ‘I just can’t thank you enough, this is the only Christmas present I’ll get.’ I said, ‘Well, your mother won’t give you one?’ She said ‘Oh, she’ll be passed out on the couch,’” Herron said. “I’m not too sentimental but I wanted to grab that kid and bring her home. It really gives you a good feeling to give back in some way.”

Chris Hanson, a Malibu native and longtime firefighter at Camp 8, hopped onboard with the Malibu Lions a couple of years ago and is chairing the marketplace event.

Growing up in Malibu, Hanson remembers seeing the Lions Club name splashed across sponsor boards all over town, including Little League and volleyball events. 

“When you grow up here for years the major service clubs were all visible,” Hanson said. “…those service clubs were always in the forefront of any events we did.”

Hoping to keep its local traditions alive, the Lions Club is welcoming new members year-round who will hopefully feel the same sense of reward as Herron and Hanson do. They meet the first and third Wednesday of each month at Duke’s Restaurant. 

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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