Sauter and his crew experienced their first real test on July Fourth of
that year when, as the
reported, “Cabrillo Pavilion was taxed
to capacity all day and not a minute’s rest did any of the employees get
from manager R.F. Sauter down to the dishwasher.” Sauter completely sold
his inventory of 5,000 hotdogs.
That evening, 40,000 people lined the strand for the fireworks near
the Pavilion. Rockets, aerial bombs, fountains of fire, and pinwheels
roared into the night. The
was in town for the festivities,
and David Gray hosted a dinner dance for its officers at the Montecito
On October 8 of that first year, forty swimmers participated in
the first annual David Gray Two-Mile Swim staged by the Kelp Club.
Three thousand residents gathered to watch the race, which besides
offering medals and silver cups for first, second and third place, had a
host of silver cups and merchandise prizes donated by local merchants.
Parma’s Grocery offered a silver cup to the first male lifesaver to finish,
and Mission Office Equipment offered a fountain pen for the first State
college woman to finish.
Thanks to David Gray, the Cabrillo Pavilion was off to a rousing
start as a center for public recreation and well on its way to becoming a
treasured Santa Barbara institution.
A Life Cut Short
In April 1928, David Gray had entered Cottage Hospital for
dietetic treatment and rest when he suddenly became ill with lobular
pneumonia and, to the shock of the entire town, died on May 9. He
was 59 years old.
His body was taken home and a wreath of lilies from his garden
was hung on the grillwork of the entrance gates. Floral tributes soon
. Downtown, flags flew at half-mast during the
Postcard shows the new Cabrillo Pavilion in early 1928. Note the hills behind sport
trees rather than housing tracts. The playground and arcade are yet to be built as is the
Marmonte Hotel. (Courtesy Santa Barbara Historical Museum)
Circa 1928 the wading pool, playground, arcade and pavilion are in place thanks to
the Peabodys and Grays (Courtesy of Santa Barbara Historical Museum)
Wearing fashionable plus-fours, David Gray points to
the new Cabrillo Pavilion whose design, construction,
furnishing and management he financed (Courtesy of
Santa Barbara Historical Museum)