The soundtrack of a late August day in Santa Monica is expected to be filled with the crash of waves along the beach, gulls squawking from the air and children squealing in delight as they whizz through the sky on rides at the Pacific Park Amusement Park on the pier. And on Friday, August 26, there were a few more happy children packing the pier and making a joyful ruckus, as Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation hosted the fourth and final Clippers Santa Monica Pier Day of the summer.
“Clippers Owner Donald T. Sterling wanted kids to have an opportunity to ride the rides for free and enjoy the pier during the summer,” Clippers Director of Community Relations & Player Programs Denise Booth said. “This event was a new addition this summer and the first time we’ve done it. We have registered over 600 kids to come out to the four different Pier Days, and it may become an annual event.”
After arriving at the pier, all children ages 6-14 years old who had pre-registered through the Clippers Foundation were given a t-shirt, meal voucher and a wrist band allowing them go on as many rides and play as many games as they wanted.
“It is really nice of the Clippers and Mr. Sterling to give this great opportunity to the kids,” Arlene Andrews of South Los Angeles said.
Andrews brought 40 children from the Greater New Unity Baptist Church in South Los Angeles to the pier to enjoy the rides and the thrill of being at the beach.
“Everyone is having fun,” Andrews said. “It is a wonderful event, it is great. A lot of the kids have never been here and they don’t even get the chance to come to the beach. So this is a really big thing for the kids. They are so excited and love their shirts and lunch. It is just really wonderful.”
The boardwalk was full of exuberant children in white Clippers shirts scurrying to get in line for their favorite rides.
Through the efforts of the Donald T. Sterling Foundation and the Clippers Foundation, thousands of children have taken part in the Clippers Santa Monica Pier Days, Youth Basketball Clinics and Swim Clinics at the Expo Center this summer.
“In total we’ve probably touched over 3,200 children through basketball, swimming and the pier,” Booth said. “So, we’ve definitely made a difference with a lot of families this summer and really provided some great opportunities for kids.”
Natalie, 8, from Los Angeles was definitely taking advantage of her opportunity to go on the rides on the pier.
“The frog-hopper is my favorite,” Natalie said as her mother, Marisol stood proudly behind her.
“She’s been having fun,” Marisol said. “She’s really having a great time. She has been challenging herself and doing things that she was afraid of at first.”
Eliciting the most screams was the Sea Dragon, a large green dragon that wheeled back and forth in a semi-circle, and it proved to be the favorite amongst young riders.
“The dragon ride is the best,” Daniel, 6, from South Los Angeles said. “It goes fast, but it is not scary for me."
Neighbors from Watts, Mallory, 12, and Katherine, 9, also were impressed with the Sea Dragon.
“I like how it goes really high,” Mallory said.
Booth was also pleased with the success of all of the Clippers summer-time community activities.
“The families have really enjoyed it,” Booth said. “There are a lot of families that mentioned that they would not have been able to do these things for their children. It really helped them to have these opportunities to not just go to the pier, but to attend our summer basketball clinics and swim clinics. We’ve had some good feedback from the families and the kids loved it, so we are very excited.”