The upcoming Toast to the Casa, an annual benefit event for the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, which will be hosted at the Casino San Clemente on Sept. 30, already projects to be different from previous years.
Since two landslides that occurred at Casa Romantica in April and June, respectively, forced the large yearly fundraiser off the center’s grounds, new Co-Executive Director Kylie Travis said the preparation process has changed significantly.
“We have to really be careful and plan ahead to make sure everything makes it to the venue and that we’ve thought of everything,” she said. “We have just been doing our preparation even more ahead of time this year to make sure that we’re just remembering every little thing that we need.”
It’s a vastly different circumstance than closing the Casa Romantica facility the week of the event in years prior for preparations, Travis added, and being able to quickly grab something they’ve forgotten for the event.
The landslides damaged the facility’s back patio, forcing debris and landscaping to fall to the bottom of the property, which backs onto the Orange County Transportation Authority’s railroad right-of-way.
The two landslides also prompted the OCTA to suspend passenger rail services through the area. In turn, both the OCTA and the City of San Clemente contracted crews to work on stabilizing the slope and readying the right-of-way to resume service.
Travis said the first landslide, on April 27, necessitated the start of an emergency fund campaign to recoup losses.
“Since we do so many private events, and that’s about 30-40% of our income to run our cultural center, we lost about $300,000 to $400,000 in the first 12 weeks after the landslide, instantly, because we had to refund that money,” she said.
The organization needed roughly $250,000 to replenish its operating costs, which was met by June 30.
Now, Casa Romantica is in the midst of its “Building Hope, Preserving History” campaign. It looks to raise $500,000 by the end of the 2023-2024 fiscal year, with the Toast to the Casa event playing a significant role in the fundraising process.
Once the city finishes its slope stabilization work, the organization will be responsible for replanting landscaping, installing lighting and seating, and other projects concerning the historic property’s appearance.
“We are trying to work with our construction company and engineering company, and they’re working as fast as they can to stabilize the bluffs enough to open our main salon before the rains come,” Travis said. “That way, when we have winter weather, we’ll be able to move it inside.”
She added that Casa Romantica will continue to fundraise to pursue their mission of preserving Ole Hanson’s former home and providing cultural programming to the community. It just so happens that they have an additional challenge of needing to physically restore the property, which accentuates the need for San Clemente to consider the Casa Romantica’s importance.
Whether by attending the Toast, sponsoring a program or buying general admission tickets or concert tickets, according to Travis, each action makes a difference.
“Just simply visiting us is an act of support and showing how needed our space is in our community,” she said.
Tickets for the Toast to the Casa are $200, with sponsorships and reserved seating starting at $1,500. The event, which will occur from 5-10 p.m. on Sept. 30, seeks to tribute the Golden Age of Hollywood and will feature more than two dozen vendors, and a a live and silent auction,
Lizzy and the Triggermen will perform, in addition to tap dancer Dante Lara and DJ Nomis, with the latter leading a dance party during the event. The Casino San Clemente is located at 140 W. Avenida Pico, San Clemente.
More information about the event can be found at casaromantica.org.