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Encinitas' Surfing Madonna Has Place To Call Home

Gathered below the Surfing Madonna mosaic in Encinitas, the Snavely family celebrate a memorial brick dedicated to Allan Snavely, July 29, 2014.
Promise Yee
Gathered below the Surfing Madonna mosaic in Encinitas, the Snavely family celebrate a memorial brick dedicated to Allan Snavely, July 29, 2014.

The Surfing Madonna mosaic that created controversy when it was first installed in Encinitas three years ago has now found a permanent home.

Mark Patterson, mosaic creator and chairman of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project (second from left) along with Megan McCarthy, project marketing assistant, and Bob Nichols, project vice chairman, celebrate the new home of the Surfing Madonna mosaic in Encinitas, July 29, 2014.
Promise Yee
Mark Patterson, mosaic creator and chairman of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project (second from left) along with Megan McCarthy, project marketing assistant, and Bob Nichols, project vice chairman, celebrate the new home of the Surfing Madonna mosaic in Encinitas, July 29, 2014.
Memorial bricks, like this one for former Encinitas city councilwoman Maggie Houlihan,  are being sold at the foot of the Surfing Madonna mosaic as a community fundraiser.
Promise Yee
Memorial bricks, like this one for former Encinitas city councilwoman Maggie Houlihan, are being sold at the foot of the Surfing Madonna mosaic as a community fundraiser.
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The mosaic was removed from its original location under a railway overpass after state law ruled it violated the separation of church and state. It now graces the street wall of a private pizzeria across the road.

At a celebration at the site on Sunday, mosaic creator Mark Patterson said the artwork is aiding the community in ways he never imagined.

The annual Surfing Madonna 5k/10k run has raised money for the last two years for youth scholarships, including a special needs surf school, Patterson said. Now memorial bricks at the Madonna’s feet are being sold to raise funds for other community projects

“That was one of the big 'aha' moments for us is when we realized we have the potential to change things in lots of ways," he said. "Not just issues with the ocean, but also people’s lives for the better. That was a huge awakening.”

The memorial bricks honor friends or family members, or share inspiring quotes.

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The brick fundraiser will continue until all 1,000 bricks at the base of the mosaic are purchased. The bricks allow donors to be a permanent part of Surfing Madonna history.

Funds raised will help support community programs focusing on the ocean, youth and individuals with special needs.

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