The excitement was palpable in the air as the city's elite and comic book enthusiasts gathered under the dazzling lights of the Discovery Center. The occasion? The 2023 Discovery Gala ~ DC Superheroes. August 26th 2023 was an unforgettable night of glamour, charity, and a touch of fantasy.
As guests entered Superhero Headquarters (sponsored by Rincon Tribe of Luiseño Indians), they were immediately transported into a world of comic book wonder. The Rotunda had been transformed into a comic book shop, with hundreds of comic books and figurines for people to browse.
The Great Room went underground with black lights and huge boulders making the perfect atmosphere for the Bat Cave. Decorated with Catwomen's suit and hi-tech videos of the Batmobile, guests felt they had entered a different world.
Overlooking the lagoon, Newell’s Terrace transformed into the artic kingdom Superman uses to hide out. The Fortress of Solitude was one of the most popular spaces and it might have had to do with the ice-themed bar serving up specialty drinks.
A short walk over a bridge beamed guests to a new land, Pollinator Planet. This planet’s luscious landscape is perfect for our beehive and many butterflies to thrive. Residents of Pollinator Planet (team members of Caterpillar Chow) gave guests information on how to make their home turn into a pollinator planet with the purchase of various types of milkweed.
After a pit stop down the red carpet to check out our Valet Sponsor’s new all-electric BMW SUV, guests used a blow-up arch to be transported to their final destination, Gotham City.
Mini cityscapes adorned each table along with pieces of kryptonite and a superhero themed Pez Dispenser for each seat.
As the event got underway, guests were treated to a sumptuous feast fit for a superhero. Culinary delights created by Vigilucci’s Restaurant Group gave everyone the energy to dance through the night once the program ended.
While the superhero theme added an element of fun and fantasy to the evening, it was important to remember the underlying purpose of the night – supporting the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundations’ mission.
Our honoree of the night, Tim Stripe, has supported the AHLF’s mission from day one and we had the immense pleasure to bring him on stage and name him as our Agua Hedionda Man, cape and all. Tim’s generous contribution of time and labor, determination to get projects done and deep call to serve our community has allowed the Discovery Center to grow and develop in ways that simply would not have been accomplished without his selfless and untiring contributions. After a beautiful thank you speech by Tim, the live auction began.
The live auction was all about getting our superhero guests to their dream destinations such as Alaska, Africa, Disneyland’s Club 33, the La Costa Omni Resort & Spa, and a private cinematic experience.
Paddles sporting comic book phrases such as “POW”, “BAM”, and “KA-CHING” flew up at an attempt to win one of these destination packages. The combination of unique auction items, enthusiastic bidding, and a vibrant atmosphere created an experience that catered to both hardcore superhero enthusiasts and those looking to make a positive difference in the world.
The program portion of the evening ended with a BANG when CEO, Lisa Rodman, announced a match if the crowd could raise $25,000 towards hiring a Director of Trails and Conservation. From $10,000 to $100, our superhero guests pledged to minimize the environmental impact of trail construction and usage, protect natural habitats, our local watershed, and wildlife. After some quick math by COO, Samantha Richter, it was announced the $25,000 was raised and a total of $50,000 would be going towards the Director of Trails and Conservation position!
The perfect conclusion to a remarkable night of fantasy and philanthropy came once Atomic Groove hit the stage. Guests leapt out of their seats to the dance floor to sing and dance their hearts out to classic songs such as Dancin’ Queen by ABBA and Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. Drinks and dancing continued until 10pm when superheroes, tired from saving the day, grabbed the milkweed they had purchased and headed home.
The Discovery Gala ~ DC Superheroes will be remembered not just as an event but as an epic journey into the realm of superheroes, where the extraordinary power of collective action was harnessed for a greater good. It served as a shining example of how passion and compassion can come together to create a truly super-powered event. Thank you to our guests, sponsors, in-kind donors, volunteers, and Gala committee for making everything possible. You are the Robin to our Batman.
Thank You 2023 Discovery Gala Sponsors:
Superhero Headquarters- Rincon Band of Lusiano Indians
Bar- Project Management Advisors
Live Auction- Stifel Carlsbad ~ Gary Endres
Photo Booth- Barter Family Foundation
Paddle Raise- Tooley Interests
Food Warmers- Carlton & Sandy Lund
Thank You Superhero Partners:
Best Day Brewing
Carlton & Sandy Lund
Chick-fil-a Quarry Creek
Mexico City Cuisine
Pegasus Estate Winery
Shake Shack- Carlsbad
Sunset Bay Candy
Thank You To Our 2022 Volunteer of the Year: Colleen Moore
Thank You and Congratulations To Our 2023 Volunteer of the Year: Shelley McLennan