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‘We don’t want new and shiny’

Students from Newport Harbor, Mater Dei and Corona del Mar high schools protest in support of keeping the Balboa Fun Zone the way it is.
(KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot)

NEWPORT BEACH — The Balboa Fun Zone was alive Saturday with high school students — and a few adults — rallying to save the area’s charm.

In the Nov. 4 article “Kids to ‘occupy’ Fun Zone, Corona del Mar High School student Courtney Brown’s grade level was incorrect. Courtney is a junior.

More than 50 students, mostly from Corona del Mar High School, waved protest signs and collected signatures on a petition to preserve the Balboa Fun Zone as the open house for the upcoming ocean-themed educational and entertainment center ExplorOcean — which is slated to replace a portion of the Fun Zone — went on.

“I think it’s a cool attraction, but this isn’t the place for it,” said junior Courtney Brown, 16, who organized the rally. “We don’t want new and shiny. It will take away the charm.”


The Newport Harbor Nautical Museum plans show one block of the Fun Zone area, around where the carousel used to be, built into a three-story, ocean-themed museum with an extended dock for the Ferris wheel and a new children’s play center.

Students held signs that said “Keep our Culture Alive,” “Leave our Fun Zone Alone,” and “Don’t Harm Our Charm,” and tried to talk to, and pass out fliers, to passersby. The students collected more than 90 signatures Saturday afternoon.

Courtney, who took a guided tour through the ExplorOcean preview center with Newport Harbor Nautical Museum President Rita Stenlund, said she likes the idea of it. Just not at the Fun Zone.

The students weren’t the only ones.


James Pobog, 60, who started the online campaign to save the Fun Zone, came out to support the students and found the turnout “astounding.” He said he hopes this will spread the word.

“I think raising the awareness of the surrounding area is what this is all about here,” he said.

Stenlund, though, saw herself and the students on the same page and the rally as a chance to communicate to them.

ExplorOcean will revitalize the area while keeping the carnival atmosphere, said nautical museum spokeswoman Anne Warde.

“I think it’s a terrific opportunity to unite on a common goal,” Stenlund said. “We all want to create a vibrant feel on the Fun Zone. The museum feels a great responsibility to do that.”

CdM junior Olivia Ford, 16, said she has seen the plans and said although its being described as “putting the fun back in the Fun Zone,” it’s really taking away the area’s charm.

“This place is really important to a lot of people and I just hope they know that people don’t want it here,” she said, adding later, “I hope they get the message.”


Twitter: @britneyjbarnes