By Britney Barnes
The weather forecast was cloudy, with a chance of golf balls — and it didn’t disappoint.
About 2,000 golf balls rained down on Mariners Christian School’s athletic field just after noon Friday.
“I thought it was pretty awesome and really cool,” said third-grader Gabriella Creamer, 9.
The Costa Mesa private school hosted its inaugural Helicopter Golf Ball Drop to raise money for student scholarships. Students sold more 2,000 balls at $10 each to raise about $20,000 for Mariners families in need of support, said Carolyn Johnson, advancement specialist.
That money is in addition to the $50,000 raised for scholarships Monday at a golf tournament.
“We have families whose children have been here for a number of years,” she said. “If they hit a bump [financially] … this money really allows these kids to stay here.”
About 10% of Mariners’ families receive scholarships at any given time, and about 15% to 20% of families need help during a tough patch during their time at the school, said Alumni Director Julie Hellriegel.
As students waited around the street circling the field, they were bursting with excitement, jumping up and down, doing the wave and cheering when three helicopters and a small orange plane flew overhead. A group of boys started doing “The Macarena,” which quickly caught on.
When the right helicopter finally showed up and started circling lower, the screams were deafening as students jumped up and down, waving at the black chopper. A chant of “Drop it!” competed with the thundering sounds of the rotor blades before bucket after bucket of golf balls were dumped.
“We were so excited,” said third-grader Annie Buda, 8.
“Everyone was out of control all day,” added classmate Lexi Miner, 9.
The fundraiser idea was brought to the school by Mariners Christian father Mike Manclark, who had done the golf ball drop at another school and offered up his helicopter.
The golf balls were sold for a chance to win prizes, like a MacBook Pro and iPods, if the purchased ball landed closest to “golf holes.”
The two top-selling students, fifth-grader Amanda Hseih and seventh-grader Ryan Sarvak, got to ride in the helicopter for the drop.
The event was a chance to get the school’s more than 600 K-6 students involved with helping their friends, Johnson said. Helping others in need is a main part of the school’s Christ-centered mission, Hellriegel said.
“We really tried to get them to connect with the heart of the event,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to instill that sense of community and helping other families.”