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CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Classic

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Catalina Island Classic

Catalina Island Classic

With steep hills rising from a gentle valley, Avalon offers a perfect spot for a town. Those dramatic hills frame the flats, offering great views and providing Catalina Island’s only town with an unforgettable atmosphere. Once a year, those hills also become a magnet for hundreds of the country’s best downhill skateboard racers.

The Catalina Island Classic, organized by Riviera Skateboards, is now in its fourth year and continues to grow in popularity. Racers take on Wrigley Road, starting near the Inn on Mt Ada and racing downhill to the flats. The Classic will feature downhill racing on May 2 and 3 as well as additional skateboard events throughout the weekend. Sunday’s race is expected to attract some of the world’s fastest racers who will be competing to share a $10,000 purse. Last year that purse was divided between mens and womens categories, with AJ Haiby from the USA taking the top spot for the men and Elena Corrigall from Canada claiming the womens top spot. Additional American skaters include Zak Maytum, Alicia Fillback and Marisa Nunez.

Skateboard fans won’t want to miss Catalina Island Classic weekend, which has developed into one of top downhill events in the country.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island dining

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Restaurant week returns to Avalon on Catalina Island

Restaurant week returns to Avalon on Catalina Island

Catalina Island restaurants offer a buffet of options for hungry Avalon visitors. Whether you are looking for culinary creativity or quick bites – Catalina Island dining has it all, including burgers, fresh seafood, great steaks and much more. Once a year, Santa Catalina visitors have a convenient way to experience nearly all the dining in Avalon.

This year, two Catalina Island dining events will be combined into one week of culinary fun. On Wednesday, May 13, the 11th Annual Taste Around Avalon will kick off the Third Annual Avalon Restaurant Week. During the Taste Around, visitors can try a bite or two at more than a dozen local eateries and vote for their favorites. Nearly all of the participating restaurants will also offer libations –of either the alcoholic or non-alcoholic variety — for voting as well. Voting cards will be available from Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce prior to the event, which takes place from 5 to 9 p.m.

Avalon Restaurant Week gives visitors several days to sample Catalina dining options. Nearly a dozen participants will offer prix fixe lunch and/or dinner menus that often include several courses and some special selections. Reservations are appreciated, especially on the weekends.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Rugby

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Catalina Island has been home to an annual rugby tournament for more than 20 years.

Catalina Island has been home to an annual rugby tournament for more than 20 years

Catalina Island events fill the calendar with endurance runs, art festivals, concerts and more, providing something for everyone. While most of those events tend toward the more traditional, a few events appeal to a more narrow audience – giving Catalina Island visitors a chance to learn more about activities that they may not have the chance to experience in their everyday lives.

One of those events happens the first Saturday in May, when the Catalina Island Rugby Festival brings together an armada of rugby teams from throughout Southern California. Originally brought to the island as the Old Boys Rugby Tournament in 1994, the festival provides a full day of rugby playing and is open to both teams and individuals. The Los Angeles Rugby Club organizes the event, which benefits the Cancer Support Community of Redondo Beach.

This year’s tournament is scheduled for May 2 at the Joe Machado Field. Teams can sign up at the festival website and a sign-up board will be available at the Catalina Cantina on Friday, May 1. Catalina Island Vacation Rentals is offering a sponsorship package with a 10 percent discount during rugby weekend.

CIVR Blog: Avalon Rubber Ducky Derby

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Photo credit: http://shire2011.blogspot.com

Photo credit: http://shire2011.blogspot.com

Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island is home to a wide array of creatures. Bat rays and spider crabs hunt the bottom; calico bass and opal eye cruise placidly and schools of bait fish occasionally churn the water. Gulls bob at the surface, greedy for a tossed French fry, while sea lions frolic and forage. Catalina Island’s human residents and visitors have their own impact, with vessels large and small plying the harbor and children and adults alike playing on the beach.

While most of the sights in Avalon Harbor are an everyday occurrence, once a year a unique flock of invaders takes over the harbor. On Sunday, April 12, hundreds of bright yellow rubber duckies will be dumped into Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, to race valiantly toward the shore. Frequently helped by the Avalon Harbor Department and their trusty firehoses, the duckies will battle ferociously as they bob to the finish line. The Avalon Rubber Ducky Derby is a fundraiser for the local children’s theater troupe, Kids at Play, and also includes a corporate race and decorated duck competition. Adopting a duck – or a flock of ducks – is open to residents and visitors alike and includes the satisfaction of supporting a good cause as well as the thrill of cheering your duck to the finish. The fun all starts at noon on Avalon’s South Beach.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Art Fair

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Catalina art fair and exhibition

Catalina art fair and exhibition

From plein air masters to amateur photographers, Catalina Island inspires creativity. The island’s natural beauty, dramatic seascapes and the quaint charm of Avalon all call out to be immortalized and for generations artists have answered that call.

Thanks to the Catalina Art Association, art fans and artists have two chances to celebrate art on the island. The Catalina Festival of Art, scheduled this year for Sept. 18-20, has a nearly six decade history, making it one of the longest running events on the island. Spring has brought an additional event with the Catalina Art Fair and Exhibition. Held each year on Easter weekend, the CAFÉ show, while smaller than the fall festival, still brings the wonder of art to Avalon’s picturesque waterfront.

Scheduled this year for April 3 to 5, the Catalina Art Fair and Exhibition has become a popular addition to the Avalon event calendar. Artists and other vendor set up booths along front street, more formally known as Crescent Avenue, Avalon’s waterfront promenade. In addition to shopping, art fans will also discover children’s activities, educational opportunities and live entertainment.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Spring Fest

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Catalina Spring Fest

Catalina Spring Fest

Celebrating spring comes in many different forms. Warmer waters, green hillsides and emerging wildflowers are just a few of the ways Mother Nature celebrates spring. On Catalina, spring also means busier days, more visitors and more fun.  Avalon, Catalina Island’s only city, celebrates spring with a community-wide festival.

Organized by the City of Avalon’s Recreation Department, Catalina Spring Fest invites local organizations to set up along Crescent Avenue from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. Those organizations provide food and fun – while doing a bit of fund raising for their cause. Carnival-style games, live music and more will provide fun for the whole family.

Avalon’s picturesque waterfront and long twilight provide the perfect backdrop for Spring Fest, which brings together locals and visitors alike. The evening’s many food vendors will offer snacks, meals and desserts – or take a break from the fun at an Avalon restaurant. Strolling among the booths gives visitors an entertaining insight into many of the community organizations the support the town and its residents.

This year, Springfest will also include Earth Day celebrations and local environmental organizations will have information about how you can reduce your impact on the earth.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Conservancy Ball

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The Catalina Island Conservancy Ball will help support efforts to the protect the Catalina Island fox. Photo by Jack Baldelli, Courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

The Catalina Island Conservancy Ball will help support efforts to the protect the Catalina Island fox. Photo by Jack Baldelli, Courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

Catalina Island’s unspoiled natural beauty has intrigued generations – and thanks to the Catalina Conservancy, it will continue to offer a respite from the unbridled development on the mainland. Charged with preserving the island in its natural state in perpetuity, the Catalina Conservancy is responsible for nearly 90 percent of the island.

Supported by grants and donations, the non-profit Conservancy is also the beneficiary of the one of the most elegant events on the island. Each year, the Catalina Conservancy Ball fills the Casino Ballroom with tuxedoes and ball gowns for a gala event that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars. This year marks the 20th Catalina Conservancy Ball and organizers are celebrating with an emerald theme and a tagline of Leaping Lizards.

With more than $4.5 million raised over the last two decades, the Conservancy Ball is one of the organization’s most important events. The first ball was co-hosted by the Corsair Yacht Club, and this year the club will reprise its role. The evening will include dinner and dancing as well as a silent and live auction. The fun begins at 6 p.m. on April 11. Invitations may be requested here.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Marathon

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Catalina's terrain challenges runners

Catalina’s terrain challenges runners

Catalina Island has become a world-class destination for long-distance athletes. With rugged terrain and spectacular vistas, the island is a perfect alternative to city-based marathons across flat, asphalt –finished roads. Spanning the traditional marathon length of 26 miles, the Catalina Marathon begins in Two Harbors and traverses the island – taking athletes across dirt roads and along hiking trails; rewarding them with awe-inspiring views and bringing them face to face with compelling wildlife like American bison and bald eagles.

As part of Spectrum Sports Management’s array of athletic events, the Catalina Marathon benefits from the company’s broad base of race management experience. The race benefits the Catalina Island Conservancy, the non-profit organization responsible for preserving the island in perpetuity.

This year’s Catalina Island Marathon is scheduled for Saturday March 14. Marathoners will begin in Two Harbors and finish in Avalon. For those looking to cheer the runners through the streets as they finish, the first runners will complete the race less than three hours after the start. Athletes looking to take on the challenge of Catalina Island but who are perhaps not quite ready for the dramatic distance and challenging elevation changes of the Catalina Marathon; may want to take on the Catalina 10K and 5K, both held the same day in and around Avalon. Kids can also take on the Kids 5K.

CIVR Blog: Avalon Underwater Cleanup

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Photo courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy

Photo courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy

Each February for more than three decades, hundreds of scuba divers plunge beneath the surface of Avalon Harbor to collect trash, debris – and a few treasures. The Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup is the only time of the year that recreational scuba divers are allowed in Avalon Harbor. The day-long event clears tons of bottles, cans, plastic and more from Catalina Island’s waters.

In addition to raising funds and clearing trash, the Avalon Harbor Underwater Clean-up also offers divers and non-divers alike an entertaining  day of treasure seeking. Hundreds of pairs of sunglasses have been retrieved as have hundreds of cellphones. Clean-up divers have also discovered jewelry, clothing, dinnerware and much more. Each year, prizes are given for some of the unique items discovered in the bay.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Catalina Conservancy’s Robert E. Given Fund for Ocean Conservation and Educational Research and the USC Hyperbaric Chamber. This year’s event is scheduled for Feb. 21. Diving will begin at 9:30 a.m. and all divers must be out of the water no later than 11 a.m. Registration is $50 per diver. For more information call the Catalina Island Conservancy at 310-510-2595 or visit the event website.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Silent Film Benefit

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The Catalina Casino will host the Silent Film Benefit on May 16.

The Catalina Casino will host the Silent Film Benefit on May 16.

One of Catalina Island’s most enduring events has been enjoying renewed popularity. The Catalina Island Museum’s annual Silent Film Benefit combines the power of a live orchestra with the nostalgia of silent films.

Held for nearly 30 years, the Catalina Silent Film Benefit has spotlighted some of the most iconic films ever made and 2015 will see another icon brought to the Avalon Theatre. The Phantom of the Opera was considered ground-breaking when it was first filmed and the story’s popularity has continued to resonate, thanks to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The 1925 film starred Lon Chaney as the title character and was remarkable for several innovations. For the Silent Film Benefit, the film’s dramatic score will be performed live by a 30-piece orchestra, accompanied by a soprano soloist.

The Silent Film Benefit tends to sell out early and with the popularity of Phantom of the Opera, museum staff recommends advance ticket sales. Tickets are $20 for museum members and $24 for non-members and can be purchased by calling the museum at (310) 510-2414 or visiting the museum website. The Silent Film Benefit will be held on Sunday, May 16, at 1 p.m.