Eight students join O.C. Fair staff

COSTA MESA — For 16-year-old Estancia High School student Ozzy Magana, the prospect of working at the Orange County Fairgrounds couldn't excite him more, even if he ends up collecting tickets at the front gate.

That's because this will be the varsity linebacker's first job and he's ready to take on more financial responsibility, he said.

Ozzy, along with seven other Estancia and Costa Mesa high school athletes, on Thursday officially became the first eight hires among the 1,200 summer employees for the 2011 O.C. Fair during a special presentation at the Orange County Fair & Event Center Board of Directors meeting.

In all, six male students and two female students were hired for part-time jobs from July 15 to Aug. 14 as part of Hire Local, a joint initiative between the Costa Mesa City Council and the Fair Board.

"This is every teenager's dream," Ozzy said. "Who doesn't want to work at the O.C. Fair? I grew up going here as a kid with my family and I get to work with friends, so what's better than that?"

However, as excited Ozzy was about spending time with friends, he recognized that the opportunity comes with responsibility.

"[Costa Mesa Councilman] Steve Mensinger and our coach picked guys who were outstanding from the football team," Magana said. "It's a really core group of guys who would be honest, not late to work and represent our school well."

Mensinger spearheaded the initiative in January as a way to encourage local businesses to recognize the benefits of hiring within the community.

"We hope that it sends a message to the business community that there is a lot of talent and a lot of kids with great work ethics in the community," he said.

The initiative is aimed at not only providing jobs, but also giving youths an opportunity to develop skills to become future leaders in the community, he said.

And a job at the fairgrounds can often open unexpected doors, said fair President and Chief Executive Steve Beazley whose own employment history started at age 12 at the fairgrounds.

"My message is this as we introduce these kids today: It is possible that your first job is at the fair and later you will be CEO," he said. "You're on that road today."

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