DOLPHIN DIVE: RUBBER RACE
Dozens of people lined up along a 200-foot water slide set up in the Great Meadow at Chase Palm Park for the first ever Dolphin Dive fundraiser Saturday afternoon, hosted by the Santa Barbara Sunrise Rotary Club.
After the tune of “First Call” was played on a nearby speaker, some 1,500 rubber dolphins were loaded into place before being released down the water slide. Santa Barbara City Fire Station No. 2 was on hand to provide water for the slide, which was reused for all five of the races.
The free event drew more than 100 people. Proceeds will be put toward the Rotary Club’s local and international projects.
One of the major beneficiaries of the work done by the local club goes toward Camp Whittier. The group has done several activities over the years to help keep the camp’s facilities up to date, said Eric Ryan, a Rotary Club member who was tasked with loading the dolphins into place.
The event was similar to the rubber duck races that have been held in recent years. Donors are able to “adopt” a rubber dolphin for $10 for their chance to win big.
“We just decided to put a Santa Barbara spin on it,” said Mr. Ryan after he was asked why dolphins were used, rather than the traditional rubber duck. “It’s hard to compete in this town with all the fundraisers, so we decided to make a little more of a spectacle of having the water course.”
The club has done various fundraisers over the years, including a raffle as part of the Solstice Parade last year.
The big winner of Saturday’s race was Rotary Club member Judy Holehouse, who won the final race and was awarded $5,000.
She posed for a few pictures with the winning rubber dolphin and told the News-Press that she will give $2,500 to the Rotary Club and was undecided with what she would do with the rest.
“I’m really dedicated to what we do,” she explained. “We have great people all over the world helping us with really great things.”
Asked if she ever thought winning the top prize was possible, she responded “No, not in a million years.”
Chase Palm Park was filled with vendors and activities for kids to enjoy. Booths for groups like Girls Inc. and the Boys & Girls Club were set up, along with a photo booth, inflatable dolphins, tug of war and more for attendees of all ages to enjoy.
Rotary Club member Gabriel Lucatero was dressed in a dolphin mascot uniform, dancing with the kids as local band “King Bee” performed for the crowd.
Mr. Lucatero, who joined the group about nine months ago, said he wanted to do whatever he could to bring a smile to someone’s face.
“It feels good to be able to do something for the kids,” he said.
Some of the other projects the Rotary Club does throughout the year include a free dental clinic, providing dictionaries for local third-grade students, and honoring La Cuesta High School students.
“They’re the future,” Mr. Ryan explained. “It’s really important to Rotary that we kind of build a future of informed and active citizens who want to make the world a better place.”