SAUSALITO, Calif. - On a sunny day in the Bay Area, the Sausalito Foundation threw the "Varda and the Summer of Love" shindig to save a piece of private art that's gone public.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the counter-culture phenomenon that was the Summer of Love in San Francisco. And a small, but robust festival benefiting a Paul Varda mosaic took over Marin Ship Park.
The fundraiser, to gather $45,000 to restore the mosaic, was full of mesmerizing personalities dressed in colorful clothing that spanned the decades -- burlap and linen, polyester and spandex. They danced freely unbound by time -- free from all the hustle, bustle, and tech of San Francisco.
Susan Shea put the event on with The Sausalito Foundation to help restore the work of art that has succumbed to damage after being placed in the park.
The mosaic originally lived in the famous circular Villa Roma Motor Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf, which was torn down in the 1980s and replaced with a Marriot Hotel.
"They were going to crunch it and throw it away," Shea told ABC7 News. "And the citizens of Sausalito got together and paid the money to have it hauled across the Golden Gate Bridge on a truck...it laid on its back for six years, then was raised again. And it's been here since 1983."
"You can see how damaged it is. Even today, people have been picking stuff off it," Shea said as the mural towered over the crowd of former flower children illuminated by the scorching sun.
Shea says people have thrown tennis balls against it, possibly mistaking it for something other than a piece of exquisite public art.
"So there's this local mosaicist called Pippa Murray, who is internationally known, who is going to help us refurbish this in October," Shea added.
The Hippie Voices band played 60s classics like The Rolling Stones' "I Cant Get No (Satisfaction)," as crowds shopped at local booths and fluttered in the grass. Some looked like pirates from another era, wearing their years and experience like a badge of honor.
Shea says the Varda fundraiser and Summer of Love 50th Anniversary are a good match. "The Summer of Love is pretty well known, so we put them together."
Many of the attendees of the event were true flower children of the fabled middle-60s -- an era we all feel familiar with, even though some of us were never there.
And hopefully, through awareness, and a little peace, love, and understanding -- they'll raise the money to preserve a living relic of the past San Francisco is so well-known and well-loved for.
Click here to donate to the Sausalito Foundation's efforts to save the Paul Varda mosaic.