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New Nonprofit Group Wants To Revitalize Starlight Bowl In Balboa Park

Save Starlight holding cleanup event at abandoned amphitheater on Saturday

The Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park is pictured in this undated photo.

Credit: Save Starlight

Above: The Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park is pictured in this undated photo.

The Starlight Bowl was home for more than half a century to San Diego Civic Light Opera, later known as Starlight Musical Theatre. But in 2012 that organization folded and the venue fell into disrepair. Now there's a community initiative to bring back the Starlight Bowl.

The Starlight Bowl was home for more than half a century to San Diego Civic Light Opera, later known as Starlight Musical Theatre. But in 2012 that organization folded and the venue fell into disrepair. Now there's a community initiative to bring back the Starlight Bowl.

If you have lived in San Diego for a decade or more then you may remember the heyday of the Starlight Bowl and how Starlight Musical Theatre developed the technique of “freezing” the performance mid-scene or song as a means of dealing with the noise of planes flying overhead. This eventually turned into a tradition fondly or frustratingly remembered by audiences.

But the Starlight Bowl has not had any audiences in its seats for years.

Save Starlight is a new nonprofit established to revitalize the Starlight Bowl, a 3000-plus seat, open-air amphitheater in Balboa Park. On Saturday, the organization holds its first event: a volunteer cleanup to remove weeds from the abandoned site. The ultimate mission is to revive the bowl as a viable community venue for performances of all kinds.

Save Starlight has been spearheaded by Steve Stopper. He’s a ten-year veteran of Starlight productions, having worked as sound designer and engineer. He’s overseeing the organization’s ambitious three-step campaign to cleanup, then restore and finally implement a sustainable plan for placing the venue back into operation.

"The Starlight Bowl is a beautiful historic San Diego asset that — with some creative adjustments, collaboration and reinvention — has wonderful potential for being revitalized as a viable community venue," said Stopper, who serves on the Save Starlight Steering Committee.

"Save Starlight is thrilled by the ongoing support and guidance of the city, as we move forward in raising community awareness of the current state of the space," Stopper said. "This Reverse Gardening cleanup event on Saturday is an opportunity to weed the overgrown venue as we publicly kickoff our fundraising campaign in the company of supporters, city council members and community volunteers. We look forward to sharing and growing this initiative with the help and input of the community."

The Saturday event begins at 9 a.m. and Save Starlight will provide a light breakfast and musical entertainment. For more information or to register to volunteer, go to the organization's website at savestarlight.org.

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