Mustachioed officers from the Santa Barbara Police Dept. flaunted their facial hair in front of a panel of judges at Chino’s Tacos on State Street Monday night.
The mustache-growing contest raised over $1,500 in donations for the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, a Central Coast support group for children with cancer. Local policemen began growing their facial hair in early March in celebration of Mustache March, competing on Monday for awards such as creepiest, best or worst mustache.
Creepiest mustache award winner Blake Burgard said he had never grown a mustache before this month.
“This is my first mustache,” Burgard said. “While I may look like Magnum, PI, it feels like I have a tarantula on my face. It’s been a fun month.”
The event was held in front of a packed house at Chino’s Rock and Tacos, which donated 10 percent of all sales to the foundation and gave out free tacos to anyone with a mustache.
Chief of Police Cam Sanchez, local reporter John Palminteri and police sergeant Mike McGrew judged the contestants’ facial hair. Six-year-old cancer patient Isa Mireles also judged mustaches for the kid’s choice award. Mireles then shaved all the officers’ mustaches.
Best mustache winner Chris Martinez said the officers did not originally plan to hold the competition, but saw an opportunity to raise money for the charity.
“We weren’t planning a fundraiser. We did this as a team and then wanted to donate to a cause, so we pulled our money together [and] chose the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation because it is a great foundation that provides for kids and families in need,” Martinez said.
Burgard joked that while he should be offended by his creepiest mustache award, he was happy to have contributed to the charity event.
“The foundation personally touched our police family when they helped Sgt. McGrew’s family,” Burgard said. “It is a local, nonprofit organization that supports low and middle income families with children who have cancer.”
The foundation serves families from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, helping over 100 families and 445 individuals last year alone.
Nikki Katz, the founder of the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, said the police fundraiser was a great success.
“I thought it was fantastic,” Katz said. “The police officers did such a good job and having these guys behind it made it so much more special and personal.”
Landon Kelt of the Kelt Group, a local management firm that also donated to the event, said the mustache competition drew a huge audience.
“We’re a big supporter of the police department, and it is a great cause,” Kelt said. “The event had a great turnout, and I was surprised by how crowded Chino’s was.”