Gale Filter Gets Crabby and other Ocean Gala Highlights


Photo Credit Jackie Loza

I’m not sure if “brought them to their feet,” “brought them to their knees” or “brought them to tears (of laughter)” more aptly describes executive director Gale Filter’s  performance at San Diego Coastkeeper’s 15th Annual Ocean Gala. One thing is for sure: his appearance in a bright red king crab costume, proclaiming the plight of San Diego Bay and our region’s waterways, signaled a new era for water quality enforcement in San Diego.

The fundraiser and auction raised more than $110,000 to ensure Coastkeeper can empower our community to make fishable, swimmable and drinkable water throughout San Diego County a reality. After the past three plus months when I focused on the logistics of the event (which volunteers can help, who requested a vegetarian meal, how in the world will we fit a 10-foot decoration in a 10’1’’ high room), I felt sincere satisfaction and gratitude to see individuals and companies in San Diego rise to the challenge of contributing the funds we so urgently need to continue fighting for good decisions about our waterways. That and hearing Gale refer to his wife as “the crab cake of his life” made for some memorable moments.


Photo Credit Jackie Loza

We honored City Councilmember David Alvarez and Pacifica Companies CEO Ashok Israni as the 2011 Coastal Champions. Like so many others in our community, these two gentlemen embody what a diverse set of stakeholders can do together. It’s incredibly fitting that Councilmember Alvarez’s district and some of Pacifica Companies’ projects sit on the shore of San Diego Bay, where Coastkeeper’s attention turned immediately upon closing the Gala doors: to the final hearing about toxic sediment removal from San Diego Bay. This crowning moment in a 20 year battle exemplifies why we need to continue to raise funds for advocacy in San Diego. And why every person at the Ocean Gala made a difference on Saturday night.

Speaking of champions, I’d like to hand out a few awards of my own.

  • Our volunteers, who worked so very, very hard and are the foundation upon which we build our momentum and impact
  • IKEA San Diego whose centerpiece donation raised $1,700
  • Schmidt Design Group landscape architects whose water lite display spread the message about water-wise gardens in a unique and beautiful new way
  • David Welborn, our board president, whose ability to rise to the occasion, including a stately introduction of a human-sized crab, astounds me
  • The Barnwell Shift, whose music accompanied us throughout the evening: Oceanside locals, vehement supporters of San Diego Coastkeeper and really great guys
  • Kona Brewing Co.,  St. Petersburg Vodka and OneHOPE Wine, each of which donated their beverages to help us keep costs down and host our guests in style

It’s my job to make sure that Coastkeeper has the resources we need to speak for San Diego County waterways and the people in our community who value clean water. When an evening like the Ocean Gala comes together and I see the multitude of generous individuals who say, YES, I will help, I know that we stand together. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of everyone at San Diego Coastkeeper, thank you.

Miss the chance to raise your paddle at the Ocean Gala? You can still donate and have your contribution marked a part of this tremendously successful event.