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Editor’s Note: A previous version of this column misstated the decade and year in which the slogan contest took place. The Chamber of Commerce’s contest ran in 1991.

Fred Swegles

By Fred Swegles

Forty years ago, the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce put together a contest that invited Southern California to select a creative slogan for our town.

There were hundreds of ideas for San Clemente. And the winner?

“San Clemente, The Good Life Comes in Waves.”

I do remember the delightful slogan, but I had no idea how long it would be promoting our surf, showcasing our surfers.

The winning prize was $300. When I searched back to 1991 for news articles, I couldn’t find the name of who had collected the prize.

Meanwhile, once the contest was over, the Chamber honored one of our outstanding surfers, Steve Ward, by placing photos of him on the cover of a brochure and on the cover of San Clemente’s annual telephone book. I had photographed those photos of him surfing at the pier.

THE HEADLINE FOR OUR ARTICLE

The original article that I had written carried a funky headline: “Nixon’s Nest? Pierless City? Pearl of the West?”

More than 300 entries had been entered in the contest.

Mary Snyder of San Clemente had nominated “Nixon’s Nest.” It didn’t win.

Charlotte Woolidge Coombs from Glendale suggested “San Clemente—Closer than Hawaii.”

It didn’t win.

Or how about these hokey slogans?

  • “Seashore A-Plenty in San Clemente.”
  • “Nixon’s Paradise.”
  • “California’s Hawaii.”
  • “Car, Rail or Sail to San Clemente.”
  • “Ole Hanson’s Dream City … Liveable, Loveable San Clemente.”

Mission Viejo resident Wes Wright suggested, “Velvet Climate, Champagne Seascape.” 

“And that’s not the half of it,” I wrote, listing so many ideas. “Some people have sent in as many as 27 slogans on a single entry.”

One of the results of San Clemente’s 1991 slogan contest was this photo of local surfer Steve Ward at the pier to illustrate a map of our town, published by the Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Fred Swegles

SO MANY WANTED NIXON

Being in the 1980s, many people wanted to link retired President Richard M. Nixon to San Clemente with a winning slogan, even though he had moved from San Clemente to live on the East Coast.

At the time of the slogan contest, Nixon had selected a site for his San Clemente Presidential Library on a scenic bluff, overlooking North Beach. It never was to be built. In 1987, Nixon chose to put his library in Yorba Linda, his birthplace.

SOME OTHER IDEAS

One key San Clemente entrant in the slogan contest was Karl Wray, former publisher of the Daily Sun-Post, who had since moved to Anaheim to publish the Anaheim Bulletin

Wray submitted 10 slogan ideas, included a key slogan he had used on the Sun-Post’s newspaper masthead for years: “World’s Best Climate.”

HOW ABOUT THESE SAN CLEMENTE GEMS?

  • The High Tide of History.
  • City of Crimson Sunsets.
  • The City of Holy Streets.
  • Where Fantasy Becomes Reality.
  • Clemency by the Sea.
  • From Si’ to Shining Sea! Sea San Clemente!
  • San Clemente, La Ciudad Maravillosa de la Conquista.
  • San Clemente, the Amnestyville Horror.
  • San Clemente: A City for all Sea-Suns.
  • San Clemente—Sea for Yourself.
  • A “Perfectly Clear” Solution to Living.
  • Where You Can’t Tell the Tourists from the Residents.
  • Avenida Nixon.
  • Nixonia.
  • Ocean City on the King’s Highway.
  • Beauty, Goodness, Order, Ever Present at Our Border.
  • Near Everything, but Why Go?
  • The Pierless City.
  • San Clemente—The Whole Enchilada.
  • Last Stop on the Way to Heaven.
  • Nixon’s Hideaway.
  • San Clemente—the City of Surfers.
  • Suddenly, the Sky & Sea at San Clemente.
  • Nixon Villa by the Sea.
  • The City of Forgiveness and Love.
  • The World’s Northernmost Tropical Climate.
  • Where the Sun Only Sleeps at Night.
  • The Lost & Found of Resort Towns.
  • From Serapes to Swimsuits.
  • Ole Hanson’s Dream City … Liveable, Lovable San Clemente.
  • What’s the Best-Kept Secret on the South Coast?
  • Where Summer Spends the Winter.
  • San Clemente—It’s Beauty and the Beach.

THE WINNING SLOGAN

I searched for a copy of articles about the slogan contest and unfortunately couldn’t find any follow-up article I had written to explain “The Good Life Comes in Waves.”

That was so long ago, my clipping is long gone.

I did find, online, a Los Angeles Times explanation of our contest’s winner:

“The City Council and the Chamber of Commerce last week unveiled a $30,000-a-year campaign to promote tourism,” the article stated. 

The reporter wrote that the slogan for the campaign would be financed by two companies to promote “San Clemente … The Good Life Comes in Waves.”

“This is a one-of-a-kind business concept,” said Mimi Collier, then executive director of the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce. “We all agree that San Clemente has some fine attributes that should be promoted to the general public.”

Collier said that by pooling funds, various groups involved in the effort should be able to bring new tourist traffic, benefit everyone economically and “promote the quality of life that surrounds the city.”

SC LIFESTYLE QUALITY

“So few people realize what San Clemente has to offer,” said Paula Laskell of Centex Homes, one of the development companies quoted in the promotion.

“Most of the general public thinks of San Clemente as a city halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Few have visited its wide, clean beaches and experienced its small-town charm.”

The new slogan would appear on posters, brochures and buttons geared at drawing tourists to the city.

SOME MEMORIES FROM THEN

I can remember seeing advertisements, put out by the Chamber of Commerce, containing the slogan and nice-looking waves.

But, to me, the best was a brochure that featured a photo of San Clemente’s Steve Ward surfing at the pier.

Stanford Manning, publisher of the Daily Sun-Post for some 45 years, covered San Clemente superbly. I was a professional surf photographer, and he permitted me to publish Sun-Post pictures I would take of surfing or of other topics about San Clemente, including lots of fun subjects.

So just figure on it, it came to this: “The Good Life Comes in Waves.”

Fred Swegles grew up in San Clemente before the freeway. He has 50 years’ reporting experience in the city and can be reached at fswegles@picketfencemedia.com.

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