Countdown: Helen Woodard Animal Center 26th Annual Spring Fling Gala

Countdown: Helen Woodard Animal Center 26th Annual Spring Fling Gala

RANCHO SANTA FE — The 26th Annual Spring Fling Gala hosted by the Helen Woodward Animal Center is right around the corner. Its Alice in Wonderland theme this year, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” promises an evening to remember.

Considered as its biggest fundraiser of the year, its outdoor venue at the Fairbanks Village Plaza in Rancho Santa Fe is set for June 7.

Co-emcees this year are Dave Scott of KUSI and Shelly Dunn of Jack FM; and, live music will be performed by The Heroes.

For many, the Spring Fling Gala is a much anticipated event.

“It’s a really nice philanthropic event that people are interested in because we are saving animals and supporting our programs,” said Regina Barrella, special events supervisor at the Helen Woodward Animal Center. “People want to be part of this night.”

Barella expects the venue to sell out at 400 guests.

“Last year we netted almost $290,000 with our Spring Fling Gala and all our proceeds go directly back into the Center which helps animals and people,” she said.

This black tie event is co-chaired by Marlaine Fetzer and Rebecca Vigil.

Last year, Vigil was the chair of the 25th Annual Spring Fling, and gladly accepted another opportunity.

“I was approached to do it again this year, and again, wanted to step up to the plate and help out,” said Vigil, adding how her friend Fetzer has been wonderful to work with.

While the Helen Woodward Animal Center has always held a special place for Vigil, unbeknownst to her, she hadn’t realized when her grandmother was in care at Escondido, the Helen Woodward team would bring their animals to visit. Vigil said realizing this, provided her with great joy knowing her grandmother was receiving happiness and comfort with these animals.

Vigil agrees with Barella about why the gala is so highly anticipated, adding, “there are so many animals lovers here and they really do want to support the Center and what it provides in the community.”

As always, 5-star restaurants will be on hand serving up savories. A small list mention of these restaurants include, Searsucker Del Mar, The Fish Market, Casa Sol y Mar, The Melting Pot La Jolla, Truluck’s Seafood, Steaks & Crab House, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and Pamplemousse Grille.

“Every year, restaurants just step up immediately and want to be part of this gala and its fundraising efforts,” said Vigil, noting how they are an extraordinary part of the evening.

For the last several years, designer Joel Garlejo has created a magical ambience. This year, he returns once again to bring a whimsical, clever and creative atmosphere for, “Down the Rabbit Hole.”

And the annual gala is once again overflowing with silent and live auction items. Vigil said they are repeating the popular “Wine Cellar” win.

Guests can purchase opportunity tickets to win either a $1,000 or $2000 selection of wines to place in their collection.

“I really encourage people to come out for a lovely evening,” Vigil said. “It’s a nice way to start June with such a lovely event in Rancho Santa Fe.”

To learn more about the Spring Fling Gala or volunteer gala opportunities, please visit or call (858) 756-4117.


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