For eight-year-old best friends Cody and Braylen, attending the Dunes Center’s second annual Family Day and Softball Tournament was quite an adventure.
Not only did the boys have a coyote’s footprint painted on their faces by skillful 16-year-old volunteer Iliana Gonzales, they also successfully talked adults into having them as extra fielders for the softball game.
The event took place at Newlove Picnic Grounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 21. The Family Day event was free for all thanks to the event’s generous sponsors, ERG California, Latham and Watkins, LLP, Amirch Energy and Golden Gate Oil.
Of course, Braylen and Cody didn’t forget to also rock the bounce house that the Dunes Center had prepared for children accompanying their player parents. Plus, chocolate was awaiting them in a truck full of animal pictures and molds of mysterious animals’ paws.
In that truck, the twosome mastered a hands-on game by correctly matching footprints to animals within the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes ecosystem. They even got to caress real furs of a coyote, a skunk and a raccoon.
However, not everyone at the event had such a fast-paced experience like Braylen and Cody. In fact, a couple chose to sit back in their collapsible beach chairs, away from the softball field, and listen to live music by Louie Ortega instead.
Meanwhile, a young couple sat on the grass behind the fence surrounding the softball field and watched the game as their four-month-old son inspected his rattle and stuffed frog.
After approximately an hour, the game between Island Foxes (Braylen’s mother’s team) and the Coyotes (the Dunes Center) ended with a 15-10 win for the Coyotes.
Just like other players, Cody and Braylen were sweaty and hungry.
Quickly, players and non-players spotted and lined up for five-dollar tri-tip sandwiches that just seemed to come out of nowhere.
In fact, grading inspector David Vyenielo—friend of Dunes Center Vice President Nathan Eady— had spent an hour grilling 80 pounds of tri-tip (about 160 sandwiches) on his own while everybody else was enjoying the game. He made sure to marinate the beef with Susie Q’s seasoning to deliver a pleasant taste to the event participants.
While moving wood, Vyenielo accidentally cut himself on the forehead but continued his job. Luckily, the cut was small and harmless.
Soon, the line for sandwiches was helped. Everybody started to settle down at long tables under big branches of oak trees to converse and enjoy the food as well as live music.
During their last hours at Newlove Picnic Grounds, Cody and Braylen decided to play hide-and-seek. What they didn’t know was the Dunes Center was giving out some free sandwiches while Cody was hiding behind the grill and telling everyone who happened to pass by: “Shhh, don’t tell Braylen I’m here.”