On Saturday, more than 200 people attended the 6th Annual Big Wave Harvest Festival, a fun-filled autumn celebration with friends, family and supporters of the Big Wave Project, an office park and housing complex for the developmentally disabled that would include 225,000-square-feet of office space and housing for about 50 developmentally disabled adults in a Princeton plot behind the Half Moon Bay Airport.
It’s been a couple of months since the California Coastal Commission put a kibosh on Big Wave, maintaining the piece of property was not the right place for such a project.
But the decision to kill the live/work community for adults with developmental disabilities hasn’t stopped the proponents of Big Wave from moving ahead with future plans for the project. The partners in Big Wave LLC have already started the process to move forward with a law suit against the California Coastal Commission. They are also increasing their outreach to the community, other government agencies and legislators.
This includes events like the Harvest Festival, which coincides with October being National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month and is “a celebration for our future residents and all the people who have dedicated so much time to this project,” said Big Wave president Jeff Peck, an El Granada resident with a 24-year-old daughter with developmental disabilities. Peck has coached Special Olympics basketball for 15 years and knows a large majority of those with developmental disabilities on the Coastside, he said.
The festival, held on the Princeton property near 333 Airport Street, is not a fundraiser necessarily, although it does raise enough money to cover costs with funds primarily used for the organization’s organic farm operations and other activities for the developmentally disabled community such as educational activities and sports teams.
Big Wave Group, a nonprofit 501 (c) (3), owns the five acres on which the live/work community for those with developmental disabilities would be built. Big Wave LLC, a for-profit company, donated the land to the Big Wave Group on Dec. 27, 2011. The 15 acres, parcel immediately to the north, is where the business park would be built, “the financial engine for the Wellness Center,” said Peck, who purchased the land with his wife Valerie and good friends and business partners, Steve and Jamie Barber, over 12 years ago “to build something that provides lifetime benefits for the developmentally disabled while at the same time benefitting the entire Coastside community,” said Peck.
The Harvest Festival was created for "community good cheer" for the Big Wave community, explains Peck. The funding for the Wellness Center design and permitting process came from private individuals.
Festival activities included arts and crafts, planting, group games, pie eating contests, an old-fashioned cake walk, silent auction, raffle, a pumpkin patch, live music, and dancing.
The highlight of Saturday’s event was when all attendees at the party sang the Big Wave Song, which can be heard on the organization’s website.
“This is my life's work,” said Peck. “I want to provide independence, purpose and opportunity to those with developmental disabilities. I want every person, regardless of abilities, to have the opportunity to develop their talents and special gifts.”
Big Wave’s Harvest Festival is only made possible by the help, creativity and dedication of volunteers.