This past Sunday, June 24, was a special day for O'Neill Sea Odyssey. It was a day of celebration to acknowledge the nearly 100,000 students who have participated in the ocean science program and to recognize and thank the community of supporters who have made it possible over the last 22 years. In addition, the late OSO founder, Jack O'Neill, was honored by the City of Santa Cruz. Mayor David Terrazas led the dedication to re-name the street above Cowell Beach, "Jack O'Neill" Way, the site where the first O'Neill Surf Shop in Santa Cruz once stood.
In a surprise announcement, Mayor Terrazas seized the opportunity to present OSO Executive Director, Dan Haifley, with a key to the City in recognition of his longstanding community and ocean activism. Also recognized by the Mayor was Rebecca Aiello, a young student who proposed "Pick up a Beach Day" in the City of Santa Cruz to protect our coastal waters and marine life from pollution. Miss Aiello was awarded a Mayor's Proclamation and commended by Tucker Hirsch of Save Our Shores. Speaking to further recognize Jack O'Neill and the O'Neill Sea Odyssey milestone were Brian Kilpatrick of O'Neill Wetsuits, Bridget O'Neill, Dan Haifley, Senator Bill Monning and Assemblymember Mark Stone.
Attendees were treated to a special "Ballad of Jack O'Neill" by Robert Seals of The Wavetones and special coverage of the event was provided by KSBW 8 News.
One of the highlights under the tents on the beach was the marine debris art activity which was coordinated by volunteers Rachel Kippen, Theresa Coyle, Janice Otis and Shirley Busch. Utilizing O'Neill graphics and logos, event attendees adhered pieces of plastic pollution collected from beach and river cleanups to create three unique panels designed to raise awareness around ocean pollution.
Traditional Hawaiian woven mats (created by Rachel from repurposed agricultural drip-tape) were the tools for another activity where participants created stamp art led by volunteer Jim Laske. OSO interns, Sophie Holin and Tobin Zunes-Wolfe, were the artist and photographer respectively, behind the face painting and "photo booth" activities, while Louanne Korver displayed and sold prints of her beautiful portrait of Jack O'Neill.
Te Hau Nui dancers performed for event attendees on the plaza in a display of grace, color and flare. Following variations of traditional hula and Tahitian dance, Director Lorraine Kinnamon invited the public on to the dance floor for their finale.
Nearing the end of the celebration, the winning raffle ticket for a 2-hour private charter aboard the Team O'Neill catamaran was drawn. Congratulations to Camille Clark of Santa Cruz for being the lucky winner!
Thank you to everyone who joined in the celebration Sunday! We are truly grateful for the amazing support over the last 14 months during our 100,000th Student Campaign and were thrilled to share this milestone alongside the community.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Dream Inn Santa Cruz, Merrill Lynch's The Basuino Souza Group, and Nordic Naturals.