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OB group has Dog Beach souvenirs to fetch this Christmas

This new Dog Beach puzzle is available from the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association.
(Courtesy of OBMA)

The newest Ocean Beach holiday souvenirs are going to the dogs — more specifically, to Dog Beach.

A new puzzle and a Christmas ornament from the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association feature the nationally known beach fully populated with pups.

Denny Knox, executive director of OBMA — a nonprofit that manages the Ocean Beach Business Improvement District — said the puzzle will be ready by Christmas and the group is taking preorders.

“We already have about 250 puzzles preordered; same with the Christmas ornament,” Knox said. “We expect to sell out of the ornaments ... as they go really fast.”

The cheerful holiday ornament features a Volkswagen van with a pair of zany pups headed to Dog Beach.

This Ocean Beach holiday ornament features a couple of pups in a Volkswagen van headed to Dog Beach.
This holiday ornament offered by the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association features a couple of pups in a Volkswagen van headed to Dog Beach.
(Courtesy of OBMA)

The brightly colored Dog Beach puzzle features canines engaged in popular beach activities such as surfing, strolling, sunbathing and more.

Funds raised from the sale of OBMA items are used to promote and improve the business community in Ocean Beach.

Every year, a committee from OBMA selects a theme for its promotions. This year, Andrew Joseph “A.J.” Knox was chosen as the artist; he designed the similar OB town puzzle and ornament from last year.

“With quarantine, people have been doing a lot of puzzles and it’s a great way to spend some time,” he said.

A.J. happens to be Denny’s son. No stranger to OB, he is a professional artist and has designed several of OBMA’s previous ornaments.

“All the ornaments feel very OB to me; a little mismatched, a little quirky. But that’s part of the fun of it. Every year they’re different,” he said.

Artist A.J. Knox designed this year's Dog Beach puzzle, following up another Ocean Beach puzzle he did last year.
Artist A.J. Knox designed this year’s Dog Beach puzzle, following up another Ocean Beach puzzle he did last year.
(Courtesy of Knox family)

Dog Beach, at the northwest end of Voltaire Street, is known as one of the nation’s first official leash-free beaches.

This year’s focus on Dog Beach seemed “pretty natural,” A.J. said. “Everyone in OB knows Dog Beach. People come from all over San Diego to go to Dog Beach.”

For inspiration while working on his design, he asked members of the public to send him photos of their dogs. He received dozens.

“Everybody sent me dog pictures,” he said with a laugh. “I tried to get in as many different types of dogs as I could.”

More than a dozen playful pooches were drawn for the puzzle. A few felines found their way into the artwork as well.

“The well-known OB jetty cats are in the puzzle, and there are fun cats in antagonistic roles, playing the enemies of Dog Beach,” A.J. said.

Once the puzzle is assembled, finding hidden Easter eggs will add another layer of fun.

For example, “the puzzle has a surfing mouse in honor of legendary OB surfer Jim [“Mouse”] Robb, who passed away this year,” A.J. said. Those familiar with OB and Dog Beach will be able to pick up on the surprises, he added.

A.J. described himself as being an artist practically from the beginning. “I’ve been a cartoonist since I was 2 years old,” he said. “I had a ‘Sesame Street’ dictionary and I used to copy the drawings when I was a kid.”

He calls his art “kind of cartoony, graphic, fun and crazy.” His subjects often are busy going about their activities. His own life sounds similar, as he has no shortage of work and personal projects.

“I do graphic design and illustration and all sorts of things related to visual arts,” he said. “Right now I’m working on illustrations for a couple of different children’s books.”

“I’m a full-time script writer with Raindrop Branding and Advertising, an ad agency in OB,” he added. “We specialize in long-form, more sketch-like viral videos that are funny and a little wacky.”

He also works at New Village Arts, a professional theater company in Carlsbad, where he is a theater director, playwright and actor. He’ll be directing “Singin’ in the Rain” next spring.

A.J. and his wife, Jenna, were both raised in Ocean Beach. They’ve been married since 2017 and have an 11-month-old daughter, Lincoln.

The family also includes two cats — 6-year-old siblings Tomcat Jefferson and Aaron Purr.

“We’re big ‘Hamilton’ fans,” A.J. said, explaining that the cats’ names are derived from characters in the popular play.

A.J. said ideas have been tossed around for 2022 OBMA items but nothing has been decided quite yet.

“We’ve been coming out with new items since 2012, and the funds go back into our local businesses,” Denny said. “We thank the community for supporting us and are looking forward to next year, because we’re sure to have something new.”

For more information about this year’s OB puzzle or ornament, visit oceanbeachsandiego.com/obmastore, call (619) 224-4906 or email info@oceanbeachsandiego.com.


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