Visit the Photo Gallery
Richard Dean Anderson, Martin Sheen, Paul Watson
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's 30th Anniversary Benefit Gala was a whale of a success. Really could we say anything else!
But it was a Sea Shepherd event and therefore the day was not without obstacles to overcome. Especially when the day began as a very wet morning that threatened to turn the event into a complete wash-out.
It had rained the night before. It never rains in California they say but of course it does, especially on the one night when it is not welcome. And as luck would have it the City of Santa Monica had rented Sea Shepherd the only location in the beach parking lot with a clogged storm drain and lowest elevation.
It appears that you can take the Sea Shepherds off the water but you can't keep the water off the Sea Shepherds. By morning there were 6 inches of water in the tent where the day before work crews had laid down blue carpet, dining tables, dishes and stemware.
A few volunteers were freaking and panic was mounting but campaigns sink or float depending on leadership, and professional event organizer Yumni Park and Sea Shepherd Event Director Kristine Vasic were certainly up to the task. Very calmly and very methodically they took control of the situation.
Within an hour large pump trucks arrived and began pumping muddy water into their tanks. The tent crew began to move the tables and to strip the soggy carpet. Other crew took hair dryers to the water soaked table cloths as the catering crew moved into the kitchen tent. An hour before the scheduled opening at 1630 Hours, a new carpet had been laid down inside the tent and the tables replaced and everything was ready to go. The paparazzi were lining up on the Blue Carpet (No red carpet for Sea Shepherd) and the Sea Shepherd campaign booths were manned.
Finally the day had arrived and the event, initiated by Bob Yari, was a reality thanks to the efforts of David Glasser, Richard Glasser, Amanda Harvey, Lyndi Heus, Julie Milstead, Jennifer Morgerman, Yunmi Park, Rob Stryker, Kristine Vasic, Jonny Vasic, and Susan Weingartner.
A very special tribute to Sea Shepherd Director Susan Weingartner who organized and sold tables to the event that guaranteed that the fund-raiser would actually raise funds. She did a superb job.
And of course the event was made possible by the fact that Sea Shepherd had generous sponsors to underwrite the gala. Captain Paul Watson was very appreciative of the sponsorship by the Yari Film Group, Gil Michaels, Pritam Singh, Patty Shenker & Doug Stoll, Patagonia, Imperial Capital Bank, W.L. Lyons Brown, Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman of Jagged Films.
Flea, Paul Watson, Anthony Kiedis
Sea Shepherd crew members came in from around the world. Peter Hammarstedt from Sweden, Laura Dakin from Bermuda, Captain Alex Cornelissen from the Galapagos, Emily Hunter and Rob Stewart from Toronto, Dan from Seattle, Shannon Mann and Willie Houtman from Bermuda, Captain Peter Brown from Cape Cod, Phoenix Essig from Tasmania, Jordan DeVaan from the Netherlands, Marc Gaede, Chris Aultman, Kurt Lieber, and Marina Crockett from Southern California.
Sea Shepherd USA directors Kurt Lieber, Susan Weingartner, Persia White, Richard Dean Anderson, and Dr. Ben Zuckerman were joined by Sea Shepherd Australia director Mihirangi and Sea Shepherd Europe directors Alex Cornelisson, Jordan De Vaan, Susi Sperling, and Anne Van Ingelgem.
As the guests arrived at the Blue Carpet they were greeted by Hannah Fraser, a professional mermaid from Australia. Hannah is not only a mermaid model but a dedicated field activist working hard to stop the slaughter of dolphins. She looked like the flood earlier that day had simply deposited her on the beach to await the guests.
The 30th Anniversary Sea Shepherd Benefit gala called Breaking the Ice, and hosted by Mick Jagger and Pierce Brosnan, began on time and the weather was beautiful. There was even a rainbow across Santa Monica Bay.
The celebrity guests that arrived on the Blue Carpet were: Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Beau Bridges, Brittany Murphy, Dave Foley, Elisabeth Rohm, Eric Balfour, Eric Mabius, Esai Morales Iam Somerholder, Jacinda Barrett, Jorja Fox, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Martin Sheen, Melissa Joan Hart, Natalie Maines, Perrey Reeves, Persia White, Peter Gallagher, Richard Dean Anderson, Roseanna Arquette, Stuart Townsend, and Tom Arnold.
Actors Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde & American Pie) and Chris Kattan (Saturday Night Live) arrived to MC the event along with John Venitimiglia from The Sopranos as the celebrity auctioneer.
Outreach Coordinator, Amy Baird works the
Sea Shepherd Merchandise Booth
In the reception area, people were served vegan sushi and whale tail chips and provided with free drinks courtesy of Patron, Southern Wine and Spirits, Stella Artois, VeeV, Brown Foreman, Right Gin, POM tea and Fiji water. As they waited in the outdoor patio/lounge for the main tent to open, guests were able to enter silent bids on auction items ranging from celebrity sports memorabilia to an electric car from Zenn Motors. The prize items of the night included surf boards from Kelly Slater and Dave Rastovich and a Guitar donated and signed by Mick Jagger. They were also able to view and bid on original works of Art by Howie Cooke, George Sumner, Carl Chaplin, Robert Bateman, Peggy Oki and Stephen Watson. Howie Cooke, Peggy Oki and Stephen Watson were in attendance at the event.
Martin Sheen, Richard Dean Anderson, Anthony Kiedis, Flea and Jorja Fox (CSI) took their seats at Captain Watson's table along with Captain Watson's daughter Lilliolani and her boy friend Jeff Brazier, and Sea Shepherd director Susan Weingartner.
Each table was highlighted with fabulous floral arrangements by Empty Vase. The vegan meal was superb and was provided by An Catering. Even the meat eaters could not tell that the duck and garlic noodles was not really duck. Sometimes it looks like a duck, smells like a duck and tastes like a duck, but it is not always a duck. Sometimes it is an act of kindness. There were rave reviews heard about the food and Flea requested a second helping. The volunteers for the event were treated with an incredibly tasty vegan meal by Native Foods, thanks to chef Tanya Petrovna.
Thanks to longtime Sea Shepherd supporter John Paul DeJoria, the Breaking the Ice event was highlighted by the Patron Tequila ice bar complete with the Sea Shepherd logo carved in ice. John Paul also donated a trip on the Patron train.
Sea Shepherd Executive Director Kim McCoy welcomed everyone to the dinner and Jennifer Coolidge and Chris Kattan turned the M.C.'ing into a comedy treat. The two had a natural banter going that was surprising until Jennifer let it slip that they used to date, which explained the chummy repartee.
As the guests completed their dinner, New Zealand Maori musician Mihirangi appeared on the stage as the featured musician and she gave a flawless and dynamic performance in both Maori and English, set to her own musical background that she created before the audience on her looping instrument. Mihirangi opened her performance with Tena Koutou and thanked the Chumash Nation for being on their land. She then performed five more songs which the audience loved.
After Mihirangi, Captain Paul Watson and Executive Director Kim McCoy presented awards to BobYari, Gil Michaels, and Patty Shenker as the primary sponsors of the evening.
The highlight for the Sea Shepherd crew was the presentation of the Sea Shepherd volunteer crew members of the year awards. This year there were three winners. Chief Cook Laura Dakin from Australia was chosen as galley crew member of the year. Engineer Dan of Seattle was awarded the Sea Shepherd engine room crew member of the year and 1st Officer Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden was awarded the deck crew member of the year. Peter gave a heart wrenching speech and Dan and Laura appeared too surprised to speak when accepting their awards.
The audience sat entranced when the 30 year retrospective video, produced and directed by Jonny Vasic and edited by Simeon Houtman, was shown illustrating the high seas drama of Sea Shepherd events and giving the guests an emotional understanding of the dangers, the frustrations and the victories of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Following the video, there was not a dry eye in the house, as the audience stood to honor Sea Shepherd with a standing ovation.
Sea Shepherd 1995 crew member of the year Martin Sheen spoke about the need to selflessly fight for causes and then introduced Captain Paul Watson who delivered a passionate speech about the living citizens of the Oceans and the importance of the Sea Shepherd missions, to protecting the whales, the sharks, the seals, the fish, the turtles and the plankton. He spoke of the inspiration he was given from a dying whale and how that one moment has carried him through three decades of high seas activism.
Paul Watson delivers a passionate speech
Captain Watson then presented the first Sea Shepherd "Rock the Boat" Award to Anthony Kiedis and Flea and the Red Hot Chili Peppers for 25 years of support. Anthony even wore the Sea Shepherd T-shirt that Captain Watson gave to him in 1986. Anthony very humbly accepted the crystal award and said he was there because of his love and support for Sea Shepherd.
After Flea and Anthony left the stage, The Sopranos star, John Ventimiglia, acted as auctioneer, and bidders raised their hands to become the new owners of Mick Jagger's guitar, Zenn's electric car, and paintings by Stephen Watson, Howie Cooke, Carl Chaplin and George Sumner.
The evening ended with music from the band Escalera, a talented group of dynamic musicians that brought a close to a very successful and entertaining evening. Skateboard champion Danny Way ("who once jumped the great wall of China on his skateboard") on guitar, Ananda Moorman as lead singer, Trevor Christ on bass and Bob Burnquist on percussion. This group is going somewhere, and they ended the Sea Shepherd Gala on a high note with their outstanding performance.
Captain Paul Watson, Executive Director Kim McCoy, and the Sea Shepherd Board of Directors Richard Dean Anderson, Kurt Lieber, Bob Talbot, Susan Weingartner, Persia White and Dr. Ben Zuckerman would like to thank each and every one involved in making this evening a complete success.