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Save Starlight is a 501(c) 3 non-profit grassroots organization. Our Goal is to refurbish and reinvigorate Starlight Bowl as a multifaceted hub for San Diego community performance, events, and education.

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Old venue, New vision

Our Vision For Starlight Bowl

Save Starlight is an initiative working to restore, revive and revitalize Starlight Bowl—an open-air amphitheater in the heart of San Diego’s Balboa Park. The Bowl has been closed since 2012, and has fallen into disrepair.

We envision a venue for open-air performances, concerts, cinema, festivals, plays, community events, and musical theater.

We imagine a new generation of diverse performances, a stage for the San Diego community hosting magical entertainment experiences. Our goal is to preserve the Bowl’s heritage, ensure accessibility, and use creative technology to address opportunities and challenges for its location and architecture.

A new kind of entertainment

accessible, diverse, inclusive


As a 501c3 non-profit, Save Starlight's intent for this space is to be available for community events and performance of all shapes and size. We want YOU!!! Whether you're in our audience or on our stage, whatever we can dream is what we can do!


Once our space is up and running, performers and organizations from throughout San Diego county will have access to our venue with no upfront cost. Our organization will only collect a small percentage of ticket sales to cover operating costs with the rest going back to the performers or event organizers. This will enable local schools and organizations who may not have an up front budget a cost effective means to do events and performances. We believe the Starlight Bowl should be for everyone, and it is our goal to make that the case!


Save the Date

Charity Beer release by Belching Beaver Star Light Ale in benefit of Save Starlight!

Sunday August 18 from 12 pm - 5 pm | Belching Beaver Pub 890 Park Centre Drive, Vista CA |

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Starlight's Legacy

The Ford Bowl was commissioned by the Ford Motor Company for the 1935­-36 California Pacific International Exposition. In its early days the Bowl was home to symphony concerts broadcast via radio across the country, and other events. The name was changed to Starlight Bowl in the 1970s.

The Bowl is probably best known as home to the SD Civic Light Opera Starlight summer musicals most seasons from the late 1950s until 2012. Since the SDCLO folded in 2012, the Bowl has languished and fallen into disrepair.

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A Multi Phase Process


Renovating starlight through a Three Multi Phase Process

Phase 1
Concession and Ticketing Building + Interim Stage:  



*Activate Concession and Ticketing Booth Building

Phase 2
Amphitheater seats + Restrooms:

*Active programming on Palisades stage

*Fundraise to restore seating and restrooms

Phase 3
Starlight's Main Stage: 

*Fundraise to rehabilitate, and activate Starlight's Main Stage

The first phase includes three primary goals:


The development of our interim performance platform The Palisades Stage. Our stage will not only help activate the South Palisades, it will also provide an opportunity for our community to host family friendly events and entertainment. 

Food experience:
Bringing back Starlight’s concessions with a new twist! - better and healthier food options.

 Educational Outreach:

A digital media center accessible to students across the county. Our goal is to empower students with an interest in the creative arts. Through seminars and a hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology, students gain the tools they need to pursue a future utilizing multimedia arts, and have the opportunity to connect with Balboa Park.

*Our ultimate goal is to bring many opportunities to our community while simultaneously raise support and funds to create a sustainable footprint for Starlight. Of course, the more we raise, the faster we can rebuild the space to make Starlight the hub for San Diego family entertainment! This is going to be a multi phase process that will eventually result in the full restoration of this 3,400 seat amphitheater.




What about the plane noise?



Still have questions? check out our FAQ's sheet!


Starlight is back… and so is a completely transformed San Diego tradition!



Visionaries in action


Save Starlight—a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization—is a grassroots initiative led by a team with experience in theatre technology, urban culture, community production, urban revitalization, historic preservation, and sustainable business. Our growing team has a deep commitment to the heritage of the Bowl and surrounding park. Our DIT (do it together) spirit is generating collective momentum across San Diego for this vision.

CEO and Founder

Steve Stopper is the former audio technician for Starlight. He currently runs the largest audio, video design service, in San Diego, with customers ranging from the NFL to the Navy. Stopper is also the founder of The School for Creative Careers, a nonprofit focused on giving students experiences in real world performance art environments.


BOARD OFficials 


Chris Parks is a proud native of San Diego, attending Helix High School, Grossmont College, and graduating from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Finance.

Chris has enjoyed a diverse background of business experiences including owning and operating the Ultimate Cup and Javacup coffee house, 11 years in account management and business development with Office Depot’s Business Services Division, and 11 years as National and International Sales Manager for a local San Diego manufacturer, specializing in placing consumer packaged goods and products into large retail chains.

In addition to serving on the Save Starlight Board of Directors, Chris’s passion for giving back has guided him to serve in roles with the Alumni Association of San Diego State University as General Board Member, Executive Board Member, and as VP of Professional Events & Development for the Business Alumni Network, and as VP of Development for SDSU Alumni’s Board of Advisors.  He also serves on the Basket Brigade of San Diego Board of Directors, bringing holiday meals to families who can’t afford it.  He has also organized and participated in home builds for needy families South of the Border.

Chris was a season ticket subscriber of Starlight Theater and has great memories attending countless events with his parents, family and friends.  He is excited about the opportunity to restore this City jewel back to greatness!

In his spare time, Chris enjoys travel, photography, golf, personal growth, volunteering, and playing drums.


Sherry Register  *Bio coming soon


Robin Peters *Bio coming soon

Stan Canaris recently retired after 36 years of service within the Sweetwater Union High School District as a teacher, football coach and dean of activities at various schools. He oversaw the opening of Eastlake High School in 1992 and served as vice principal before assuming the role of principal in 1995. It was under his leadership that the school, then the newest in the district, earned recognition as a California Distinguished School as well as numerous athletic banners. Upon retirement, to honor him and his contributions to the District and the community, Eastlake High named its athletic stadium Stan Canaris Stadium. He also taught and was head football coach at Hilltop High, taught at Sweetwater High School, and served as dean of activities at Mar Vista High School. Stan is a life-time member and Vice President of Eastlake Education Foundation.  He has received numerous awards over the years. Highlights of these are: Administrator of the Year at Sweetwater Union High District, San Diego Proclamation, Coach of the Year, Certificate of Congressional Recognition, Recognition from President George W. Bush.

Kevin Charles Patterson comes to San Diego after an extensive career in the performing arts which has taken him on tours for productions around the world. He is also the Executive Director of the San Diego International Fringe Festival as well as the Nations of San Diego International Dance Festival. He is a graduate of the University of the Arts (formerly Philadelphia College of Performing Arts), where he received a BFA in Theatre/Dance.

Ed Hollingsworth is an actor and a retired teacher.  He appeared in 35 productions at Starlight, starting in 1980. His wife and all four of his kids have performed at Starlight.  He met his wife on the lawn by the back parking lot of Starlight on September 2, 1982.  He proposed to her in the same spot one year later. Starlight is a major part of his life.

Steve Kader  is a longtime San Diego resident who grew up in a family surrounded by diverse cultures and an appreciation of the arts. His background includes work as a performer, radio personality, artist management (The B-Side Players), entertainment journalism, and writing album liner notes for major record labels. This experience led him to the field of talent buying with long tenures in the past 25+ years at venues as 4th & B and The Birch North Park Theatre and tenures in recent years as The SDCCU North Park Festival Of The Arts and The Centre/Lexus Of Escondido Concerts. Currently he is involved in this capacity with The Adams Avenue Street Fair, Adams Avenue Unplugged, and The Imperial Avenue Street Festival. He has booked such artists in the San Diego market as Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Slayer, Thievery Corporation, Allen Toussaint, Kenny Burrell, Wilco, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Flaming Lips, Juanes, and The Afro-Cuban All Stars. In addition to talent buying he is an independent contractor for the NAMM Oral History Program/Library and involved as an artist consultant to aspiring artists who share his passion for music.

David Mulvaney Bio Coming soon*


Welton Jones has been involved with San Diego arts and entertainment since 1966, as a theatre and music critic for The San Diego Union-Tribune; as a playwright, director and producer at many venues; and as an activist for innumerable cultural projects.

Diana Cantu is an international business development executive with extensive experience in the intersection of technology and the arts/humanities. Currently she’s a consultant specializing telecommunications, broadcast, and multimedia distribution infrastructure. She also has served/currently serves in leadership capacity on boards for nonprofit arts organizations.

Stephanie Sherman is an art director, public curator, and social designer who creates collaborative systems by transforming underutilized spaces and surplus resources. She co-founded Elsewhere--a living museum and artist residency set in a former thrift store that helped to revitalize Greensboro, NC, and is currently the co-director of Common Field, a new national arts organizing network. She has worked as a collaborator and cultural consultant with Materials & Applications (LA), Sensible Recovery (NY), DesignLab (San Diego), Provisions Library (DC) Rebuild Foundation (Chicago), Kulturpark (Berlin), Save Starlight (San Diego), Merz Barn (UK), Forecast Public Art (MN), RadioEE (Miami) and Port-to-Port (international). Her projects have been supported by the Warhol Foundation, Kresge Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and ArtPlace America. She holds a BA from University of Pennsylvania in 20th C. Literature, an MA from Duke in Critical Theory+Visual Culture, and is currently working on a Phd in Art+Design at UCSD. She believes there is an art to everything.


Facilities and Maintenance Manager

Phil Danilof Bio coming soon*

Outreach Manager

Jamie McGuffee is a creative spirit connected with The School For Creative Careers and many other performance art entities. McGuffee has been involved with School for Creative Careers since 2014. As an instructor she has helped to create and teach seminars for students about music and live production. She has worked for over 60 music festivals and events across the country. She is able to combine her passion and skills for preforming arts, by creating events  and  through these skills she aims to develop a Save Starlight community



Gloria Parker has been a part of projects that changed the “event” history in San Diego.  At age 16, she started with the San Diego Chargers 1961, followed by the San Diego Sports Arena 1966, San Diego Gulls WHL Hockey 1966, the NBA San Diego Rockets 1967-68, moving forward to the first Holiday Bowl 1978, All-Star Baseball Game 1978, and the Super Bowl XXll 1988.
For 18 years, she was Assistant to Chairman & CEO of a multi-million-dollar manufacturer located in San Diego for the gift industry in the U.S. U.K., and Canadian marketplaces.
Although non-partisan, in 1996 she was tapped to staff the Republican National Committee (RNC) office of attending President Gerald R. Ford and his staff.
For the past 18 years she has been involved with most of the larger San Diego charities that have produced luncheon fashion shows and galas.  

Kristie Aguirre *Bio coming soon

Sparks Moeller *Bio coming soon

Tom Versen    *Bio Coming Soon

John Bolthouse is the executive director of the Friends of Balboa Park  .  He graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a degree in air transportation and aviation sciences and a master’s in nonprofit leadership and management from the University of San Diego.

Dan Woodard is an alumnus of UC San Diego and received his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles in 1986. He’s been an attorney in private practice since then. In addition to nearly 30 years in estate planning and litigation practice, he’s mediated nearly 1000 disputes. He was honored by the Los Angeles Superior Court as the Probate mediator of the year in 2010, 2011, and 2012. He has been a member of numerous Boards of Directors and been counsel to multiple non-profit organizations over the past 25 years.

Jennifer Crespo graduated from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts and also is a San Diego State University alumni. She has worked as a performer at Disneyland and Sea World. At the YMCA, she served as site supervisor and Specialty Camp Coordinator for the La Jolla location. As an instructor to the School For Creative Careers she has been involved as a coordinator to after school programs. Jen performs regularly along with her husband Marc Crespo on the mainstage of San Diego National Comedy Theater.

Julia Knoke is a seasoned international business executive, with proven expertise in private, public and not-for-profit strategic planning and marketing execution. Julia’s primary passion is successfully launching products or brands into new territories, be they in the virtual or physical world. She specializes in launch execution, brand awareness building, key messaging & outreach material development, and cross-cultural stakeholder collaboration.

Julia’s experience includes luxury cosmeceutical and wellness products, outdoor sporting and military goods, private label and offshore production, commercial real estate development, and not-for-profit global licensing and membership associations. She has held positions with both B2B and B2C firms, from small, privately held companies looking to venture into new markets, to large multi-national influencers, such as L’Oreal and the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) in New York.

Julia received her undergraduate degrees in Biology and German Literature from Occidental College, and her MBA, emphasis on International Marketing, from Thunderbird - the American Graduate School of International Management. She is also fluent in German, with strong proficiency in Spanish.

Vicki Estrada Bio coming soon*

Dr. Richard Parker Bio coming soon*



Strong Community Support



Get involved

join the cause

How you can help!




As a non-profit organization, Save Starlight relies on generous donors who help us reach our vision for Starlight. All funds go towards restoration, uplift costs, operations costs, and marketing costs.


Credit Card Donations:

Donate through our website today!

Paypal Charity Fund:

PayPal covers all transaction costs for donations made on this site, ensuring that 100% of each gift made is available to charity. Your donation will be made to PayPal Giving Fund, an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) public charity


Amazon Smile:

Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.


Corporate Matching Programs:

In some cases large companies or corporations offer Corporate Matching Gift programs to their employees.


Ask your employer to see if your company offers this amazing opportunity!



If you wish to send a contribution by mail

Save Starlight

9590 Chesapeake Dr. Ste. 3

San Diego CA, 92123


Hands on and in kind donations:

If you wish to contribute your skills/time or donate equipment, construction material, furniture, etc. Feel free to contact Jamie McGuffee to receive more details


Contact us 

Diana Benavidez (General Info):

Steve Stopper (Production):

Jamie McGuffee (Outreach):


See Press Releases and Press Archives here.

June 9, 2016 - The San Diego Reader                                                             

June 9, 2016  Voice of San Diego - Culture Report

June 22, 2016 - Save Starlight Press

June 26, 2016 - Beautiful Balboa Park

June 29, 2016 - 600 KOGO News Radio

July 9, 2016 - Presidio Sentinel

July 29, 2016 -

August  9, 2016 - The San Diego Union-Tribune

August 10, 2016 - KPBS

August 10, 2016 - The November Project

August 11, 2016 - CW6 News

August 11, 2016 -

August 13, 2016 - The San Diego Union - Tribune

August 13, 2016 - The Los Angeles Times

August 13, 2016 - NBC San Diego

 August, 13 2016 - Fox 5 San Diego

September 7, 2016 - Write Out Loud

December 27, 2016 - VOICE OF SAN DIEGO- Staff Picks

January 3, 2917 - VOICE OF SAN DIEGO

April 19, 2017 -  Balboa Park LEEDing on sustainability

April 21, 2017 -  The Committee of One Hundred  

June 1, 2017 - Balboa Park dreaming — ah, but there's the retro-fitting   

August 20, 2017  -  UT-San Diego / Starlight Bowl may see new life yet

September 18, 2017 - Committee of One Hundred Fall Newsletter

October 6, 2017- Maker Faire returns to Balboa Park

October 23, 2017  - Tom Petty-signed guitar could be source of lasting San Diego legacy

November 6, 2017  - KUSI Good Morning San Diego 

November 7, 2017 -  CBS Channel 8 San Diego

November 8, 2017 - NBC SoundDiego

December 3, 2017 - Balboa Park's 'ugly stepsister' is looking for a makeover

March 9, 2018 - Jeff Zevely Zone

July 3, 2019 - Second eucalyptus tree cut down next to historic Balboa Park Theater

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