Seau the focus of Oceanside's annual Samoan festival

Oceanside's annual Samoan Cultural Celebration returned Sunday with the usual weeklong mix of religious, sports, music, dance and cultural events, but this year's celebration will be tinged with sadness as the Samoan community honors the memory of its most famous and beloved citizen, Junior Seau.

The retired NFL Pro Bowler and longtime Oceanside philanthropist died May 2 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his beachfront Oceanside home. He was 43. The San Diego-born Samoan-American grew up in Oceanside and was a major figure in local Samoan cultural events and fundraising programs. To recognize his contributions on and off the football field, the city of Oceanside recently voted to rename the city's community center and amphitheatre as the Junior Seau Beach Community Center & Pier Amphitheatre. This week's festival will culminate July 7 with the dedication ceremony.

Youth basketball and volleyball games and clinics (along with cultural activities, a barbecue, DJ and games) will continue from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 2, 3 and 5. An adults volleyball tournament runs from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 4 at the Oceanside High School gym (to register, call Kathy Muagututia at 760-583-5771).

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