September 19, 2013

After making stops in London, Milan, Amsterdam, Singapore and many other countries across the globe, the Elephant Parade is now making its United States debut in Dana Point, California!

I've always been an animal lover, and when I heard an elephant parade was coming to Orange County I jumped at the opportunity to explore what it was all about. To my surprise, giant 10,000-pound elephants were not marching through the City of Dana Point. Instead, I quickly learned that the Elephant Parade is a free, open-air art exhibition featuring life-size baby elephant statues painted by renowned artists, dignitaries and celebrities like Cesar Millan and Khloe Kardashian.

Started in 2006 by father and son duo Marc and Mike Spits, the Elephant Parade has raised more than $6 million for The Asian Elephant Foundation through the sale of merchandise and the auction of these magnificant art pieces. After vacationing in Thailand, Marc was introduced to Mosha, a baby elephant who lost one of her feet after stepping on a landmine. Mosha then became the world's first elephant to be fitted with a prosthetic limb. Her inspiring journey was the catapult to start this exhibit and raise money and awareness for these majestic animals.

The exhibit opened this August 23, and you can catch it until the closing ceremonies on November 17. These colorful, larger-than-life art pieces are displayed beautifully at local tourist spots throughout Dana Point, including:

  • Dana Strand Beach
  • Dana Point Harbor
  • Lantern Bay Park
  • Doheny State Beach
  • Dana Point Town Center
  • St. Regis Monarch Beach
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
  • Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa
  • Doubletree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach - Dana Point" 

Before I went, I downloaded a" walking map of the exhibit from their website so I could get an idea of where I wanted to start and which pieces I wanted to see first. I decided to start at Doheny State Beach, and when I arrived I noted a sign that said parking was $15. Luckily the kind woman working at the park booth entrance let me know that one street over there was state parking for only $1 an hour. I went on a Monday afternoon so there was plenty of parking in the open lot."  You can pay with a credit card or cash at the meter."  " 

It was an absolutely beautiful day in Dana Point, but it was hot so I suggest dressing light until October/November, when you might want to bring a jacket. If you want to see all the elephants in the parade, I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes. For the most part, the statues are nicely spread out and a couple of the resorts are uphill. It took me a few hours to see them all so make sure to pack snacks and a bottle or two of water if you want to do the same. You can also opt to drive to every location, but you will be paying parking fees at all the resorts and parks.

Whatever you decide, this twist on art for a good cause is well worth the trip to Dana Point."  A perk of this exhibit being in Dana Point is if you catch the parade while it's still warm outside, you can head over to the beach after for a day of fun in the sun! For more info and photos of past exhibits, visit their website" or Facebook page