There seems to be nothing the glitterati of Santa Barbara love more than a dramatic show of philanthropy presented as a family affair where they can spend as much on wine as I do on a month’s rent.
I recently witnessed this phenomenon in Kevin Costner’s backyard on the night of Friday, September 22, for One805 Live, an annual fundraiser founded in the wake of the 2018 mudslides to provide first responders with new equipment and other support that would otherwise be out of reach budget. This year’s event raised $1 million thanks to philanthropic guests who shelled out $350 to $12,000 for tickets.
With all the local celebrities in attendance – Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Adam Levine and two other members of Maroon 5 – it was one of the most star-studded parties of the year in Santa Barbara. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started filming an impromptu talk show.
However, for me it was more like Seinfeld episode. It took me two weeks to recover from being hit over the head with a $14 margarita. Seriously, what’s the point of being a journalist if you have to pay for your own drinks?
As the party bus pulled up to Costner’s oceanfront estate overlooking the scenic bluffs of Carpinteria Bluffs, I was surprised by how familiar the surroundings were: food trucks, porta-potties, long lines branching off from an understaffed bar tent. I thought it would be more glamorous.
When I realized that this looked like a typical outdoor music festival, there was only one thought running through my head: I shouldn’t have worn heels.
I narrowly avoided a rolled ankle as I made my way down the mountain to the main event site, where I spotted some colorful, distinctive turns: nestled between the trucks was a charming bakery selling sweets and an upscale wood-fired pizza stand.
Not wanting to wait in a 20 minute line, I headed to a smaller bar that was empty and found it torn off with rope. It was a slap in the face. The lone bartender was out of reach, locked away in the luxurious VIP tents separating the wealthier guests from the rest of us lounging on blankets and lounge chairs.
Resigned to waiting in line for a $14 signature cocktail I’d never get (the Maroon 5 Margarita was sold out by the time I got to the bar), I watched the man in front of me with a ponytail. and a Hawaiian shirt, flirted with the woman next to us and accused her husband of “robbing the cradle.”
This wasn’t the kind of festival I was used to, with drunk kids in band T-shirts shoving each other in mosh pits. Costner’s guests were older and dressed more richly and leisurely – straw hats, brown leather jackets, Chelsea boots, Patagonia pullovers.
They were still drunk though.
Costner, himself dressed in a bohemian ensemble, was recognized for donating his 10-acre estate to the event. Without disclosing the property’s value, he noted that for celebrations like One805, it is “worth every penny.” It’s actually worth about $60 million.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The event began with a series of tributes from Santa Barbara County first responders.
“When disaster strikes, the people on that stage become a team,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. “We can’t do what we need to do with just our largest county and city budgets.”
After even kinder words from County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig, he addressed any retired military or first responders in the crowd, but joked that there were probably very few people actually there to hear it. as they will not be able to afford a ticket. (A round of applause for this playfully caustic political commentary.) Still, according to a One805 spokesperson, generous visitors paid for the tickets of about 100 emergency services.
After everyone expressed their overwhelming gratitude to our local philanthropists, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle presented Costner and other philanthropists with the Heart of the Community Award, marking the royals’ first official appearance in Santa Barbara since moving into their 21-year-old Montecito mansion. million dollars. in 2020. I won’t lie: I bragged about seeing them in person.
It’s easy to joke about rich people using fundraisers as an excuse to throw parties, but the money raised actually helps a good cause. These contributions support mental health initiatives and much-needed equipment for first responders, whose work is severely underfunded.
For every $1,000 raised, One805 pledged to purchase a thermal imaging camera for the county fire department. In addition, One805 said that after receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from local charities, they will also purchase six advanced drones, including three waterproof search and rescue drones, to improve the capabilities of first responders on the water and in remote areas. .
Firefighter Sam Dudley and his emotional support dog Rhonda joined Oprah on stage to discuss One805’s consulting services for first responders and shared a poignant account of the landslide rescue efforts. Dudley said these devastating memories had been “playing” in his head for a long time, but after learning about One805’s mental health services, he was able to see a psychologist and start working through some of these traumas.
Plus, I have to admit that a few other scenes made it through my cynical camera lens unscathed. Couples danced without shoes; teenagers gathered around with a slightly mischievous and cheerful look; older men in cowboy hats acted as if no one was watching; and children were running around playing with glow sticks.
I may enjoy poking fun at Santa Barbara’s alien display of wealth, but I’m not made of stone.
As for the music, it was good (Jeff “Skunk” Baxter can really shred) until Ambrosia’s David Pack fell and busted his lip on stage.
It was great then.
No other words spoken that night have stuck with me more than those coming from the wounded lips of an old rock star. “When you fall, you get up, and when you bleed, you taste it.”
It must have been difficult to follow up on this inspiring performance. Good thing it was none other than John Fogerty, the musical genius of Creedence Clearwater Revival. He’s still as cool now as I imagine he was in the 70s.
His set was full of exciting American rock classics. I never thought I’d see “Fortunate Son” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” performed live by the man who wrote them. This was the main advantage of the charity concert.
Then Ellen DeGeneres made her first joke. I think it wouldn’t have gone so well anywhere else in Santa Barbara. At least it carried a hint of self-awareness in the semi-embarrassing extravagance of the event.
“We’re here to celebrate the hardest working people in this city,” she said. She paused as applause erupted from the crowd before ending with “Real Estate Agents.”
After that, Maron 3 appeared. Two of the 5 clarets were missing, but it didn’t matter.
Maroon 3 played acoustic versions of some of their early hits, and I relived part of my childhood, which was easy and enjoyable, when the radio was full of fun, catchy, simple pop songs.
People were looking at me, and I definitely wouldn’t call myself a die-hard Maroon 5 fan, but singing those classic Top 40 lyrics struck a nostalgic itch I didn’t even know I had.
This joy quickly dissipated. There was a long wait for the bus to the parking lot; people were drunk, tired and wanted to leave Costner’s lawn. I eventually decided to walk, but wading through these eager partygoers was physically and emotionally exhausting.
Overall it was a fun event with some great performances, all for a noble cause.
My only advice is to go easy on the drinking next year or you’ll end up pulling a reporter’s hair and threatening to rip out her nose ring because you think she’s cutting you off in line on the way out.