By Josh Suiso
Ripples of excitement build as ocean lovers, surfers and casually interested folks line up outside the Arcata Theatre lounge for Ocean Night. The monthly event boasts a packed house almost every time. The goal is to inform and inspire people to act on issues.
The event consists of documentaries, a raffle, and food and drinks. Before the film started Jay Scrivner, 45, a local English professor made his way to the stage. Jay is a recent survivor of a shark attack while surfing off the Samoa peninsula near Humboldt Bay one week before the event. He was in remarkable condition considering what his body went through only a short week earlier. As he approached the mic the entire room went silent, everyone was on the edge of their seats waiting to hear what this man had to say. He expressed his deep gratitude for all the support he received from everyone, as well as for being alive after what happened for him
“It means a lot to be here,” Scrivner said. He admits that he misses surfing but that for the moment he has been living vicariously through his friends surfing outings, who have been encouraging and letting him know that it’s ok to get back out there surfing. His wife Sunny Schrivner steps up for a moment to say that she was grateful for all the support but that she and their children would not be staying playfully saying
“My family’s had enough sharks for one week,” Ms Scrivner said
The whole time his wife was speaking his eyes glued to the surf montage playing behind him.
This Ocean Nights focus ironically was on sharks, however the documentary “Surfing and Sharks” that was shown was chosen weeks prior to the incident.
In general the purpose of the fundraiser is to raise money for non-profit work. After venue costs any profit that was made usually goes to non-profits, however this particular Ocean Night was a little different than the rest considering what happened to Scrivner.
“Typically donations go to the event costs but extras usually go to the three big non profits, however the proceeds from tonight will go to help Jay’s medical costs.” Adding “The surf community always rallies around surfers that get injured especially when a shark is involved” Said Jennifer Savage, Chairperson of the Surfrider Foundation Humboldt chapter
Savage has been hosting this event for three years now, in fact this particular Ocean Night was the three-year anniversary, which she is excited about. As far as choosing what documentaries to show to the audience Savage says that she looks for things that are recent, relatable to Humboldt, things that have a mission, and are well done, to inspire people.
Eventually as the speakers left the stage the crowd became silent in anticipation for the rest of the night’s events, as a montage of surfers in action projects on the screen.
One family in particular stood out from the crowd. Renata Olczakova, 29, is a nanny and was at the event with her two kids who were looking through ocean books at all the shark pictures and were very audible about how excited they were with what they were about to see on the screen. As they gave their mother a lesson in sharks.
“I saw a sign and also read about it online, and had to come because they really love sharks,” said Olczakova.
For another attendee Jessie Cretser-Hartenstein, 31, a lecturer at Humboldt State, this is not her first visit to the event, saying that she comes almost every month because she loves the atmosphere and appreciates all the hard work that goes into putting the event together.
“They do so much good work, I think it’s fabulous that many organizations are coming together,” said Cretser-Hartenstein.
When she was questioned about the recent shark attack and how it was so close to the event and the topic, Cretser-Hartenstein reflected on a previous shark attack the previous year emphasizing the strength within the surfing community.
“It’s amazing how it brought everyone together,” Said Cretser-Hartenstein.