The Half Moon Bay High 70’s Reunion–the CCAA inspiration


        It would be fair to say, in large part, that the final HMBHS 70’s reunion which was held the weekend of July 20-22, 2012 inspired the formation of the CCAA.  This was the third of such reunions, which included everyone who graduated in the 70’s on the guest list, and which soon expanded to those who graduated in the 60’s as well as the  80’s. In fact, all alumni were welcome at the event.

        These events were put on by a handful of inspired alumni, including one of our own board members, Cathy Voisard, and was led by Alumni Mark Center, Class of 1977.  Each of the three reunion weekends took five years of planning and dedication to realize.  The reunion team was driven by their love of the coastside, and by the shared memories that only those of us who grew up in Half Moon Bay can understand.


      The first reunion was held in 2002, the second in 2007.  But it was the final reunion in 2012 which seemed to bring together alumni in a way that can only be described as transformational.

    The reunion weekend of 2012 boasted of 600+ guests, including dozens of teachers, and it would have been even more, if the reunion committee wasn’t forced to put a cap on the guest list for reasons of safety and fire codes.  Alumni flew in from all over the country to be with their classmates; one even came from as far as Turkey to attend.  The line to get in the main event on Saturday went around the block.  The event was sold out, and the reunion team was forced to turn away countless alumni who hadn’t purchased their tickets in time.

    The weekend brought together people who hadn’t seen one another in decades, and the love that filled the streets of Half Moon Bay that weekend which will never be forgotten.

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      And it was this final reunion which really seemed to transform so many people’s lives as well as  their dedication to their coastal community.  It seemed to light a fire in so many people’s bellies and made us all realize the connections we share with one another are special and rare.  And not unlike harnessing the wind or the sun to generate energy, the CCAA were inspired to harness the energy of the 70’s reunion to keep the fires burning.  The CCAA decided to keep the momentum of that love and to give back to our community in every way that we can.

‘JD’ John Donovan Benefit–another CCAA inspiration


On the heels of the 70’s Reunion, which connected so many of us, and with that feeling of love in the air, there was a cancer fund benefit held for alumni John Donovan who was suffering from non-hodgkin lymphoma.  Because of his illness, John could not resume work in his trade as a carpenter, and his medical bills and other expenses were mounting.


Marilyn Johnson, alumni class of ‘1977 partnered to hold a benefit for John in Pescadero.  It would be a wild game feed, with all food donated.  There would also be a raffle and a silent auction with all prizes donated as well.  Even the music that night would be a donation, with all funds going directly to John and his family.


Alumni Jack Quinlan would partner with Marilyn to make this benefit a reality.  Here in the kitchen of the Pescadero IDES Hall, he and alumni Gary Francis, Allen Jones and others prepare the food for the feast.


Alumni Allen Jones shows the gigantic pot of chili he’s cooking for the evening feast.


They have done a wonderful job in setting up the IDES for the hoards of visitors that evening.  Marilyn prepared lovely flower centerpieces which contained bullets and shell casings to symbolize this wild game feed event.


The organizers really had no idea what the turn-out would be like, but it exceeded their wildest expectations.  Classmates poured in the doors from the moment they opened.


People flew in from out of state and even out of country to attend the event, and to offer aid to a fellow classmate in need.


It was almost like a second smaller reunion, and the spirit of love and compassion for our fellow classmate was palpable.


It was heartwarming to see classmates such as Alejandro Hnatt, who had his own benefit years ago when he became paralyzed from a terrible accident.


Although the CCAA hadn’t been formed yet, several future board members would attend this event; here is one pictured with the man of the hour himself, Mr. John Donovan.  And while not pictured, Anne Galle is roaming about this grand event and a seed of an idea is beginning to germinate in her head.


An outpouring of alumni and love.


Alumni that spanned four decades.


Alumni Grant Walters and his band Big Crawdaddy played for free, and Grant MC’d the entire event as well.


There was a raffle with donated prizes

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The food for the wild game feed was all donated and prepared by alumni-from fresh crab to Venison and beyond.


There was a slide show of John’s life to amuse and entertain


Chair Anne Galle saw this amazing room full of love and compassion and was inspired to form a non-profit organization of alumni who could raise funds to do exactly this sort of thing.


The 70’s reunion planted a seed in Anne’s brain.  John’s benefit planted another.  And before long, these seeds would grow roots, and the CCAA would be born.

CCAA Launch Weekend-2013

The CCAA had their official launch weekend in May of 2013.  All board members were in attendance, flying from their home states to attend this special event in Half Moon Bay.  When we all gathered on Friday afternoon, there was nothing but smiles about our impending weekend of meetings, volunteerism, and fundraising.


Friends would meet us for dinner that evening as we discussed all the plans for the weekend.


     But Saturday morning it was “boots on the ground” in the early morning.  We met briefly for coffee before beginning our long and rewarding day.


     Our first meeting of the morning was with The Heal Project.  The CCAA and The Heal Project agreed to join forces in our desire to teach children how to grow fresh vegetables, and in doing so, encourage them to be involved in their community and in their own health.  It was a successful meeting.


    Following our meeting with The Heal Project, the CCAA board has a power lunch to make some important decisions.


    Our next meeting was with Fatima Soares of Coastside Hope.  This was also a successful meeting wherein the CCAA introduced our organization to them, and agreed join forces in aiding them to  feed the coastside needy.


     Next the board went to their old Alma Mater, Half Moon Bay High School, to tour the greenhouses.  Although already being used by the Heal Project, the CCAA toured them to see what we could do to clean them up and make them even more useful for our shared vision.


     Following the tour of the greenhouses, we met with the Principal of Half Moon Bay High School Ms. Allison Silvestri to see where the CCAA might aid the High School in their goals.  It was also a successful meeting.


    On Sunday morning it was once again “boots on the ground” in the early a.m. to volunteer for Senior Home Rehab day.  The CCAA and friends would help weed and do gardening for a senior in need.


We weeded, planted trees, and mostly had a wonderful time.


It was a successful and rewarding morning.


      But there would be no rest for the CCAA.  We were off to set up our booth at Rock the Block and do a little fundraising!


    We took donations as well as sell our very popular t-shirts.  “Keep Calm and Cougar on.”


    Our alliance had been launched on a sunny weekend in Half Moon Bay in May.  The board bonded with another and we no longer felt that we were just serving together, but that we had formed strong friendships.  We knew that this was only the beginning…..


2013 HMB Pumpkin Festival

The CCAA board came from far and wide in 2013 to attend the Pumpkin Festival!

Since most of the board members no longer live in Half Moon Bay–they come from all over the Bay Area– and even as far as Seattle and Florida–it is always a reunion when the Alliance gathers together for a special event.  And this weekend certainly qualified.

It would be a jam packed weekend filled with events, and everyone was excited to be a part of this special weekend.  Festivities began at the Homecoming game at Half Moon Bay High School.


And a wonderful time was had by all.


   It was thrilling for us to be back together at our school, where so many of us shared such precious memories.


    And our utter delight can be recorded on all of our happy faces.


    Following the game, the board checked into It’s Italia on Main Street for some good eats, and more catching up.



   On Saturday morning, the Alliance was up early to put up our booth at the Pumpkin Festival.


The women who tended the booth


     The CCAA sold snacks and drinks, as well as their now famous and much coveted “Keep Calm and Cougar On” t-shirts.


     One board member wore her t-shirt proudly as she sang on the Gazebo Stage with fellow Alumni Grant Walters and his band “Claddagh”


    As always, the Festival was a special time.. It was also wonderful to celebrate fellow Alumni Peter Hazel’s now famous mosaic pumpkin sculpture in the parade at noon.


     The board had a successful day at their booth, and we thank everyone for their generous donations to our cause.


     On Sunday morning, the CCAA volunteered to help with the Pumpkin Run. Our group would be course monitors and would be distributed along the three mile course.  Armed with thermos’ of coffee, the brave met in the darkness for this wonderful event.


The Alliance was spirited as always!


         From the High School football game– to the Pumpkin Festival– to the Pumpkin Run, the CCAA continued to introduce themselves to the community, volunteered for causes they supported, participated in fund raising, and had a wonderful time doing it all.