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HeARTy Fun in the Setting Sun: 5th Annual Fundraiser Dodges Heat Bullet

Event sell-out was seen as 500 make trip to Mt. Helix Park for 5th annual art, wine and music fest.

Tracey Stotz, sunburned from a long day, walked down the hill from Mt. Helix Park to make sure the entrance gate stayed open for shuttle bus access. As executive director of the park foundation, she held the key to the electronic gate.

Saturday night’s fifth annual art, wine, auction and music festival called The HeART of Mt. Helix wasn’t going to be interrupted by a small matter like buses not having access to the park.

Only a few people made the short uphill trek before the closed-gate snafu was solved. But no complaints were heard as about 500 people enjoyed wines and appetizers from local restaurants and heard a series of bands and singers take the stage.

Stotz, a Mt. Helix resident and a part-time employee, said the event was moved back from August to September to avoid the heat. She said with a laugh: “So how’d that work out for you?”

Actually, not bad.

The 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. event may have started in the high 90s, but with a 6:56 p.m. sunset—a half-hour earlier than August—the night was balmy but comfortable. Many people arrived in evening wear suitable for a Caribbean cruise.

But just in case, Fresh & Easy had donated 1,000 bottles of water, Stotz said.

The Mt. Helix Park Foundation needs at least $10,000 a month to operate, Stotz said, so the hoped-for $55,000 to $60,000 from the $50 and $60 tickets [$100 for a reserved table near the stage] and auctions could pay for half a year’s expenses. The foundation’s 300 honorary members help pay the rest.

Many volunteers helped the event come off with only a brief hitch—the access gate closed at the bottom of the hill.

One was Joyce Byrne of Soroptimists International of Alpine, a Lake Murray resident who sat up front in one of four 31-seat shuttle vans that picked up event-goers from the fire station lot on Mt. Helix or the Grossmont High School parking lot across Interstate 8.

She read a script about what passengers could expect. 

When a lost soul blocked the shuttle van—heading in the wrong direction down the hill and forcing the driver to coax her back up—Byrne said the entertainment had just begun. Passengers laughed along with her.

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