In 1976, Sheridan Byerly, a Marine Safety Captain for San Clemente Lifeguards, wanted to increase participation in the Orange County Beach Games, which up to this point only drew lifeguards from the local area. Captain Byerly’s hope was to increase the involvement in the games and include the general public in hopes to engage lifeguards and families in fun activities on the beach.
Over the next year the Orange County Beach Games grew into the San Clemente Ocean Festival with the help of publicist Dorothy Fuller. Dorothy, who will always be remembered as ‘The Mother of the Ocean Festival’, developed the slogan, “The Greatest Show on Surf” in 1981 and trademarked the King Neptune event logo in 1983. The San Clemente Ocean Festival is organized and run by a board of talented volunteer directors and hundreds of community volunteers who provide the manpower during the two-day event.
Despite the phenomenal growth the event has experienced over the past three decades, the San Clemente Ocean Festival remains a family oriented event with a wholesome atmosphere for families to enjoy as either spectators or participants. Today, the event attracts nearly 50,000 people annually from Orange, San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, in addition to visitors from as far as Hawaii and Australia.
As a 501(c)4 non profit organization, the San Clemente Ocean Festival has provided support to many local groups and organizations through grants, assisting programs such as City and State Junior Lifeguard programs, Aquatic scholarships for programs offered through the City of San Clemente’s Beaches, Parks & Recreation Division, California State Lifeguards, Ocean Institute’s Adopt-A-Class program that benefits local students, Watershed Task Force and elementary/high school programs. In addition, scholarships have been awarded to graduating high school students. Emphasis is on marine safety, service and education.