By Eric Heinz  

Ocean Festival has been having a rough month. First the sharks, then it received backlash from the community when it was highlighted on social media that the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), the administrators of The Toll Roads, was a sponsor of the festival.

San Clemente City Council approved a five-year contract with Ocean Festival on Tuesday, June 6, at the meeting, but not before discussions of whether to amend the policies of what events the city would want to sponsor.

The contract includes $50,000 each year over a five-year period.

Executive director of Ocean Festival, Peggy Vance, told the Council that the people who run the festival also live in the city and do not want to be affected by the potential toll roads. The festival is run by a nonprofit foundation. See more on the toll roads on page 6 of this week’s edition.

Athletes and spectators take part in the 2015 San Clemente Ocean Festival. Photo: File
Athletes take part in the 2015 San Clemente Ocean Festival. Photo: File

Vance said people had been “vicious” toward the volunteers and board members of the festival, and that the festival does not take positions on issues and that it brings in revenue for local scholarships and activities.

City Council approved to replace the TCA’s donation in exchange for removing their advertisements around the festival. The council also said they recognize the aspects of free speech and the toll roads right to advertise, but because of the financial interests of the city, they should have the right to decide where the money goes.

Additionally, as some marketing material has already been printed, Vance said Ocean Festival could look to replace some of the material that have toll road advertisements.

On Twitter, people responded to posts by the San Clemente Times on Tuesday regarding the backlash, saying if Ocean Festival distances itself from the TCA, they would have the support of the residents.

The city is trying to buy out TCA’s sponsorship by approving the $5,000 donation with the intent that they would not be visible at the festival. City Council will look at future events they choose to sponsor and whether those events and sponsors align with their intentions. Ocean Festival is scheduled for July 15-16 at the San Clemente Pier. The event draws tens of thousands of people to the city every year.


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