OCEANSIDE — The 26th annual Heritage Ball brought supporters of Mission San Luis Rey together for a night under the stars Aug. 29 to eat, drink, dance and raise funds for the earthquake retrofit project.
“Of all the events that go on in this city, it’s a really unique and wonderful event,” Councilman Rocky Chavez said.
A formal dinner was served outdoors on the Heritage Lawn where a dance band played and a martini bar and silent auction helped with fundraising efforts to raise $640,000.
The historic church built in the 1800s and adjacent buildings constructed in the early 1900s need $1.28 million in total project costs for upgrades and repairs to make them earthquake-fit. Half of this amount will be funded by the Save America’s Treasure Grant, the other half needs to be raised by the mission by the year 2016.
“If we don’t save this mission, history disappears,” brother Kelly Cullen said. Visitors learn the history of early California through mission tours and artifacts on display at the mission museum.
“It’s an economic driver of Oceanside,” Councilman Jerry Kern said. “People come from all over the country come to Mission San Luis Rey.”
The 200-year-old Mission San Luis Rey is an active mission. Friars live on the grounds and work to serve the community. The mission offers spiritual retreats and cemetery burial plots to people of all denominations. Recently the mission received an OK from the city to begin development of a retirement community on its grounds.
If sufficient funds are not raised before 2016 to begin the retrofit project, the mission will need to close its historic buildings that do not meet earthquake safety requirements.