monte foundation fireworks
October 2019

He Lights up the Skies for Kids

Marc Monte Honored for Donating $4 Million to Schools

By Brad Kava

Marc Monte loves fireworks. That’s one of the reasons he came up with a yearly show held in October that has raised $4 million for local schools, libraries, sports fields and boatloads of other charities.

When his father, Rudolph Monte, opened the gourmet supermarket, Deluxe Foods in Aptos in 1977, they donated $150 to a charity golf tournament, the Little Helpers Tournament.

But they wanted to do more. So, starting in 1996, Marc came up with the idea of a fireworks show held at Seacliff State Park for which kids would sell tickets. It shouldn’t have worked because of all the permits and bureaucracy  needed to do anything these days—but Monte lobbied state and local officials and got it done.

Six years ago the regulations became too tough and Monte moved the celebration to Capitola, which was more supportive and made it free. Vendors donate 5 percent of their sales to the Monte Foundation and other sponsors join in.

monte foundation fireworks
Shoppers can tell the clerks at Deluxe Foods in Aptos that they want 5 percent of their spending to be donated to charity and Marc Monte’s store does it. They have raised millions for local schools, parks and culture. Photo: Brad Kava

The show costs $30,000 and the Foundation has been able to raise millions for charity work. It will celebrate its 25th year Sunday Oct. 13 in Capitola at 8 p.m. for free.

Marc’s dad, Rudolph (Rudy) Daniel Monte and his mother Doris Sylvia Monte opened up two grocery stores together. The first was Lady Fair Market in San Jose, which was named for Doris and her blond hair. She worked at that store for over 20 years doing the books, checking, and stocking groceries. Deluxe Foods of Aptos was opened later and Doris was the head checker and worked in the office until she and Rudy retired. 

Marc, 55, has been working there since he graduated from Soquel High and Santa Clara University. He started at the bottom learning his way up to management. The store has 65 employees; many of them have been there for decades.

“We’ve been blessed with a very loyal following and people really care about the store because we care about the community.”

Deluxe will donate 5 percent of any customer’s spending to an assortment of charities if they ask at the checkout stand.

Monte says he got his love from giving from the Catholic priests in church and school and from his grandmother, who was a very giving woman.

Among the things the foundation has contributed to are the McGregor skate board park, pump track and dog park, Jade Street Park tennis courts, the Monte Fields at the Aptos Polo Grounds, the SPCA and dozens of schools and foundations.

Monte says Deluxe was a pioneer in the high-end food industry, bringing in high quality foods at higher prices. But these days, he notes, stores like Whole Foods and New Leaf have followed the trend.

The market largely runs itself so he can devote more time to charity.

“You’re only on this Earth a short time,” says Monte. “So it’s about how many people you touch, how many people you help. That’s what I think.”

Monte will be honored at an Aptos Sports Foundation dinner Nov. 2 at Seascape Resort. More information at aptossportsfoundation.com.

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