La Jolla Shores Association approves concept of donor appreciation signs in Kellogg Park

Kellogg Park's sculpture of JJ the whale sits under a new shade sail paid for through donations.
Kellogg Park’s sculpture of JJ the whale sits under a new shade sail paid for through donations.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The signs would honor those who contributed to replacing a damaged shade sail over the park’s bronze sculpture of JJ the whale.


La Jolla Shores residents have done a lot to honor JJ, a baby gray whale that was rescued in the 1990s and cared for by SeaWorld San Diego, by creating a shaded bronze statue of her that is placed (and played on) in Kellogg Park.

The sculpture is covered by a shade sail that needed to be replaced after it was damaged and taken down in February. Community members and groups stepped up to pay for a new one that was recently installed, and now the La Jolla Shores Association is looking to thank those who contributed to the replacement with two signs near the sculpture.

The board voted at its Sept. 13 meeting to support the signs in concept and wait for a rendering before giving final approval.

“The shade sail is invaluable during the summer; it makes it so everyone can enjoy the sculpture,” resident Mary Coakley Munk told the La Jolla Light. “Even more so, there is little shade in that whole area, so when we installed it many years ago, everyone was very appreciative because it was a nice space they could use, and that has remained the case.”

The original shade sail, installed in 2012, “lasted much longer than we could have hoped for” but needed to be replaced, Coakley Munk said.

“It was shredded during [a] storm,” she said. “We had planned on having it replaced, but there was no funding.”

Coakley Munk said earlier this year that the shade sail project would cost about $31,000.

She told the LJSA board that she wants two signs that “focus on education and telling JJ’s story, and the donors will be mentioned on them.”

The signs would be perpendicular to the ocean so they won’t block views, she said, and would be made of material similar to the educational panels next to the nearby Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla.

The signs also would feature a QR code that leads users to links and videos telling the story of JJ’s rescue and care.

In January 1997, when JJ was a few days old, she got separated from her mother off Marina del Rey near Los Angeles and had to be rescued. Just 15 feet long at the time, JJ (named in memory of Judy Jones, a longtime supporter of marine mammal rehabilitation in Laguna Beach) was taken in by SeaWorld and rehabilitated for more than a year.

The sculpture at Kellogg Park represents her size when she was found.

In March 1998, she was released back into the ocean, having reached 31 feet long and gained hundreds of pounds.

The gray whale mosaic at The Map represents her size when she was released.

“When the playground at Kellogg Park was redone [in 2010], there were some dolphin sculptures that the kids loved,” Coakley Munk told the Light. “They were in such bad condition that they had to be removed. Because JJ was loved by everybody, we checked with the community as to what they would think about having a sculpture of her there, and it was a popular idea and well-supported.

“Because the gray whales pass here going north and south [on their migration path] … when we wanted to replace the dolphin sculptures, it became a whale instead.”

The JJ sculpture was installed in 2011.

Coakley Munk said she will present renderings for the donor signs at a future LJSA meeting. A motion to approve the signage in concept passed, with board member Kathleen Neil opposed because she prefers one sign instead of two.

The La Jolla Shores Association meets Sept. 13 online.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Other LJSA news

RFP status: Representatives of surf concessionaires based in La Jolla Shores spoke of their continued frustration with the city of San Diego’s request for proposals process that authorizes which surf instructors can operate on the beach.

Surf Divas co-owners Izzy and Coco Tihanyi said the permit fees are often too high for small operations and are disproportionate to the cost for other youth recreational activities. There also are unpermitted operators that go unregulated, they said.

“There has been a huge problem since COVID with enforcement of the permits … and the illegal operations that have these sophisticated websites and come down from L.A. to do lessons for people,” Izzy Tihanyi said. She referred to those operators as “permit poachers.”

A “huge list” of safety regulations are required of permitted operators that unpermitted instructors do not adhere to, she added.

“It’s very frustrating being a legal operator going aboveboard and not having anyone helping us,” Coco Tihanyi said. “It’s not fair.”

Izzy Tihanyi contended that better signage indicating which operators are permitted would help and said she is advocating for that change with the city.

Walter Munk Day: The second Walter Munk Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, in Kellogg Park, with a Kumeyaay blessing immediately before the event.

As with last year, an “Ocean Alley” will feature about 40 exhibitors offering ocean-related, interactive, educational games, demonstrations and other activities. There also will be speakers, unveilings, ribbon cuttings and more.

The event honors the famed La Jolla oceanographer who died in February 2019 at age 101.

Lifeguard report: San Diego lifeguard Lt. Lonnie Stephens said La Jolla Shores drew large crowds this summer. However, as the fall approaches, beach-goers will see fewer and different lifeguards stationed in the towers, Stephens said.

At the end of this month, new lifeguard personnel also will be stationed elsewhere locally, and La Jolla lifeguards may transfer to other locations.

“The ocean water is still very warm and the rip currents are still pulling, so make sure you swim in front of a guarded lifeguard tower,” Stephens said.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Shores Association next meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, online. Learn more at ◆