Huntington Beach travel agent always up for next Bucket List adventure

Huntington Beach travel agent always up for next Bucket List adventure


Cindy Lee likes to spread her passions among different buckets.

Well, bucket lists, to be exact.

Lee runs a Huntington Beach-based company, Surf City Aloha Marketing. And she is one of the people in the city who embodies what locals call the aloha spirit.

Her gift is connecting people and small businesses, which often involves paying it forward in some way through her gifts business.

Earlier this month, on April 4, it was National Hug a Newsperson Day. She sent gift bags to local radio and television stations with gummy bears.

The food of choice wasn’t an accident — April 27 is National Gummi Bear Day.

“I made a little label,” Lee said. “It said, ‘I hope Hug a Newsperson Day is amazing. These are the next two days to remember, National Bucket List Day and Gummi Bear Day.’ It’s little things like that, just kind of stepping outside of the box … I like sending gifts, and I thought I needed to find a tool that’s going to give me different ideas to send gifts.”

Lee, 57, is very in tune with the National Day Calendar. But recently she had an idea for a day that wasn’t yet listed.

She started National Bucket List Daywhich will be celebrated each year on April 24. The day was awarded by National Day Calendar last August, then Lee registered it in December and started promoting it in January.

“I like to call or text five to 10 people a day,” she said. “I say, ‘Hi this is Cindy, I just wanted to say hello,” Lee said.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Lee believes in having different bucket lists — you can have a movie bucket list, a career bucket list, a book bucket list. It isn’t just for travel, she said, though she is a travel agent, too, and maintains her Bucket List Coach Travel Blog.

Formerly a chef for about 25 years, Lee said her love for paying it forward started out of her admiration of the late Princess Diana, who was known for her charity work. As a teenager, she sent her a letter and got a letter back from Buckingham Palace with the official crest.

“I like to call or text five to 10 people a day,” she said. “I say, ‘Hi this is Cindy, I just wanted to say hello. It’s not business-related, it’s just about you. Tell me the best thing that happened today.’ And that might be the best thing that happens, me making that phone call.”

After moving to Southern California in 2017, the Garden Grove resident got involved in various local groups, including the Surfrider Foundation.

North Orange County Surfrider Foundation education coordinator KC Fockler said that Lee’s efforts at two different Surf City Splash events, as well as a charity golf tournament last year put on by Total Western Inc. at the Huntington Club, have netted the nonprofit about $20,000. Lee helped provide gift cards and prizes for each event.

“She has names and numbers, and she doesn’t forget a face,” Fockler said. “She’s great in that respect. Our chapter is lucky to have her do things. I know we’re going to have some things coming up here this summer. Our new chapter executive team, all we have to do is ask her, ‘Hey Cindy, we have this event coming up, can you find some people?’ She’ll be able to do that lickety-split.”

Lee, who also hosts a travel podcast that is on hiatus while she writes a book this year, is a connector. In recent years she’s made friends with Rocky McKinnon, who provides local surf and Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) lessons.

She met McKinnon at Surf City Splash in 2018, she said. He helped her overcome something on her own fear bucket list, and got her out on the water.

“The biggest thing is to overcome your fears,” Lee said. “I still have a fear of the ocean, but when you have someone out there that you trust, it makes a big difference.”

Cindy Lee, shown walking at the pier in Huntington Beach on Monday, started her Bucket List Coach Brand in 2012.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

McKinnon said he appreciates Lee’s positive message to live every day to the fullest.

“It’s just that friendly reminder, with each passing day, you never know when our demise is,” he said. “I know it’s kind of dark to say that, but it’s true. You just don’t know. It’s good to get out there and be a part of living.”

The city of Huntington Beach held a celebration last month, attended by Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark and Chamber of Commerce representatives, honoring National Bucket List Day. Lee is in Las Vegas this weekend for a National Bucket List Day Proclamation weekend.

On the day itself, she said she will be on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas with some friends to celebrate. It won’t just be about her — she said activities on the weeklong cruise include giving back to an orphanage in Puerto Vallarta, and she will be sure to celebrate Global Pay It Forward Day on April 28.

“She’s good at connecting people together and trying to encourage others to connect in the city,” said Kim Turcotte, owner of HB Mermaids. “I’ve introduced her to a couple of friends of mine, including my girlfriend, Melissa Murals. And she’s very interested in being a mermaid, that I do know.

“I think that’s on her bucket list. It’s something that she should probably make happen.”

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