By Kit-Bacon Gressitt
La Mesa’s Mt. Helix will come alive with the sound of music — and food, drink, art, dancing and general frivolity — at the 10th annual heART of Mt. Helix fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 10, from 5 to 10 p.m. The event is for adults only, age 21 and older.
The fundraiser is organized by the Mt. Helix Park Foundation, which serves as trustee of the private family trust that established the park in 1929. The event raises a third of the park’s annual $300,000 budget, which funds park operations.
More important for those in search of a fun outing, heART of Mt. Helix is the best party of the summer, or so Dianne McCann, chair of the organizing committee, hears from past partygoers.
“There are a lot of fundraisers around the county,” McCann said, “but nothing compares to this venue. It’s amazing, the view, there’s nothing like it. It’s just magical.”
“It takes a complex brew to make the kind of magic that produces heART of Mt. Helix. Its success depends on local support, as Nicole Roberts, the park’s executive director, explained: “We do not receive any government funding — a lot of people think it’s a government park. So we do have to fund-raise and we look for community support, private donations, and local business support. And they are really great.
“Sixteen local restaurants donate their food and time, which is wonderful. Local vendors donate beer and vodka — Helix Brewing Company, Ballast Point and St. Petersburg. And Goldfield Stage donates the shuttle from the parking lots. We also have a wonderful new presenting sponsor this year: Ron and Mary Alice Brady, local philanthropists.”
Food at this year’s heART of Mt. Helix will be provided by Anthony’s, the Brigantine, Cali Comfort BBQ, Casa De Pico, Dream Dinners, The Edge Mediterranean Grill, Edible Arrangements, The Hills, Himalayan Cuisine, Pick Up Stix, Starbucks Coffee, Terra American Bistro, Hooleys, Menchie’s, Posh Nosh, and D’Amatos Pizza.
In addition to food tastings and beverages, heART of Mt. Helix offers guests an eclectic lineup of musical performances, headlined by The Mighty Untouchables, a multicultural cover band. There will also be five visual arts demonstrations and an exhibit, and a silent auction with classic fundraiser items, including golf outings, vacation packages, gift baskets and artworks.
If not the food and drink, the music and dance, or the art and camaraderie, the location alone is a powerful draw to the heART of Mt. Helix. Event organizers and supporters alike rave about the setting, especially the 360-degree views of San Diego County—including sunsets over the Pacific.
“I’ve lived on Mt. Helix for 31 years,” McCann said. “I absolutely love the park. It’s one of the most wonderful places — it’s the best view in the county —to see all of San Diego. It’s a serene place, especially early in the morning when the sun is coming up. It’s therapeutic. We have a trail, places where people can have picnics. It’s a wonderful place for families and great when people have friends from out of town, to show them our beautiful county.”
But, if you can’t make the event, the park is open to the public 365 days a year, free of charge, and it offers programs for children, families and adults.
As Pat Walsh, general manager of the Brigantine suggested, “Take a day trip, go up there and hang out. On a clear day the view is absolutely great.”
Tickets for heART of Mt. Helix are $75 for general admission, which includes seats in the park’s amphitheater, and $125 for reserved table seats. Organizers have recommended purchasing tickets early, as the event capacity is about 500 to 550 people, and they expect to sell out.
The park is located at 4901 Mt. Helix Drive, in La Mesa. Parking will be in the two lots at the intersection of Mt. Helix Drive and Vivera Drive, next to the San Miguel Fire Station, and at Grossmont High School, 1100 Murray Drive, in El Cajon. Free shuttles will transport guests to the park.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Mt. Helix Park website at MtHelixPark.org.
—Kit-Bacon Gressitt writes narrative nonfiction and commentary, published at ExcuseMeImWriting.com and is a founding editor of WritersResist.com. She formerly wrote for the North County Times. She also hosts Fallbrook’s monthly Writers Read authors series and open mic, and she can be reached at email@example.com.