Fundraising event discussed; members honored at annual Old Town Chamber meeting
By Dave Schwab | SDUN Reporter
The Old Town Chamber of Commerce, one of the county’s longest-running since its foundation in 1945, saluted several members and discussed ways to bring student tours back to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park at the group’s annual meeting, held Nov. 28 at Fred’s Mexican Restaurant.
Disbanded due to budget cuts, one option discussed was to hold a tournament at the Presidio Hills Golf Course with proceeds going toward restoring the student day trips.
“We want to do a golf tournament to get the kids back into Old Town,” said Richard Stegner, the chamber’s executive director. The tournament, he said, would in part allow fourth-graders to tour the park.
“It is not a replacement for the program,” he said, “but we can bring a portion of it back and get students back here.”
In 2010, Old Town had approximately 12,000 students come through the park to be educated about the area as California’s birthplace. The state park was the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California where, in 1769, Father Junípero Serra established his first in a chain of 21 missions that became the cornerstone of the state’s colonization.
“Lets take the money from the golf tournament and help to pay for transportation to get the kids here,” Stegner said. “It’s only $3 a kid to get them on a bus and get them here. It’s just a win-win here for everybody concerned.”
Steve Affleck, chamber member and representative from the Mormon Battalion Historic Site in Old Town, said the $3 per student equated to $36,000, a much-needed sum to bring back the tours.
After the meeting, Stegner said the chamber’s first golf classic – tentatively scheduled for March 18, 2013 – would include special guest and San Diego golf professional Billy Casper. Members unanimously endorsed the golf classic as an educational fundraiser to support returning student tours to the park.
Stegner said one of the less talked-about missions of the organization is to promote recognition of Old Town State Park’s historic character.
“We were the first European settlement, and sometimes the city of San Diego forgets that,” Stegner said. “The city needs to recognize what a huge cultural asset that they have here.”
Fred Grand, chamber president since 2000, presided over the group’s annual meeting and handed out plaques, certificates and other awards, honoring chamber members for their service throughout the year.
A special recognition went to Marie Pedrin-Gizoni, who received a trip to a Palm Springs resort for her supervision of the chamber’s volunteer corps as well as her stewardship of the chamber’s visitor center. Pedrin-Gizoni interacts with tens of thousands of park guests annually in the visitor center.
Other honors went to Bob Barros in recognition of his service as chamber director; the Mormon Battalion Historic Site; Lori Wulfemeyer for presiding over the VIP Garden at the 2012 Old Town Art Festival; Chuck Ross of Fiesta de Reyes for his work at the 2012 Tequila Trails; and Kim and Jay Ulrich for contributing to the success of the 2012 Fiesta de Kustom Kulture automobile show.
Certificates of Appreciation were presented to Padre Trail Inn and Bruce Johnson of Alamo Mexican Restaurant.
Grand said the Old Town Chamber is a lot bigger – and more diverse – than most people suspect. “We have 450 members, everything from big-business owners, like hotels, to small-business mom and pops,” he said. “It’s a wide variety of different types.”
For more information about Old Town and its chamber of commerce visit oldtownsandiego.org or call 619-291-4903.