DEL MAR — About 150 people flocked to the Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary on Sept. 22 for the third annual Tropical Sunset Fundraiser, an event that raised about $8,500 for the care and housing of unwanted birds. Guests included Gina and Hunter Seau, the ex-wife and youngest son of late football great Junior Seau.
The three-hour event featured a silent auction, a raffle for a plasma-screen TV, a Brazilian barbecue buffet, wine tasting, live music and opportunities to interact with many of Free Flight’s resident birds.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had a bird on my head,” said Solana Beach resident Bette Hoffman, executive director of the Junior Seau Foundation, as she somewhat illingly wore a macaw as a hat.
Free Flight, located just south of the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Jimmy Durant Boulevard, was established in 1981 by Bob Stonebreaker, who had a lifelong passion for exotic birds.
In addition to rehabilitating and nurturing the animals, the sanctuary places companion birds and provides a day care service for working people, such as Camille Rosefeld of Torrey Hills, who don’t want to leave their pets in an empty house all day.
Free Flight encourages public interaction with its birds.
This year’s fundraiser brought in slightly more money than it did last year, Free Flight’s Sarah Booher said.