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Parks and Recreation Events

Welcome to the Parks and Recreation Annual Events Homepage!

Special Events Permits
Looking for permit information for large, public events? Please visit the City Manager's Special Event Permits page.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

11:00 am
Santa Cruz Wharf
Just named by the World Open Water Swimming Association as one of America's Top Open Water Swims! This one-mile swim around the historic Santa Cruz Wharf attracts ocean swimmers from all over Northern California. Participating or viewing the race is an ideal way to celebrate the wharf’s 100th Anniversary. Starting on Main Beach and finishing on Cowell Beach, the swim around the Wharf gives athletes a unique perspective on this century-old structure and its most vocal residents, the sea lions! The Roughwater Swim is co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz City Surf Lifesaving Association and sanctioned by United States Swimming and Pacific Masters Swimming. Entry forms and information available at, Lifeguard Headquarters on the Wharf or at the Parks and Recreation Office, 323 Church Street in Santa Cruz. Call 831-420-5270.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Santa Cruz Wharf
This year the Aloha Races and Polynesian Festival joins in the celebration of the Wharf's 100th Anniversary! We'll celebrate the history of the Three Hawaiian Princes who first rode redwood surf boards at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River during the summer of 1885, years before the Wharf was built in 1914. Our Hawaiian connections continue to this day via the Aloha Outrigger Races and Polynesian Festival. Designed especially for new and novice paddlers, the Celebrity races are a chance to discover the excitement of outrigger canoe racing. Join the fun or cheer for friends in the race. Outrigger Race Team Application.

The Polynesian Festival follows with a taste of the tropics – fresh flower leis, shave ice, and dance performances. Sponsored by O’Neill, Pu Pu O’Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Club. Co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, KSBW TV and KPIG 107.5 FM. Visit, call 831-420-5273 or email.  Cost: Festival FREE! Team entry $100 for four if entered by August 1. Booth Application.

Saturdays, September 13, 20 and 27, 2014 
10:00 am - 11:30 am
Meet at the Sanctuary Exploration Center, then stroll the Wharf
35 Pacific Ave and Santa Cruz Wharf
The Santa Cruz waterfront has always served as a significant entree to our region’s history. With the Santa Cruz Wharf celebrating its centennial in 2014, what better way to explore this rich historical tapestry than with award-winning author and historian Geoffrey Dunn, a fourth-generation member of the pioneer Stagnaro fishing family. Dunn will present a colorful half-hour presentation of historic waterfront photographs at the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center, and then embark on a leisurely historic tour to the end of the wharf. Space limited. Cost: $20.00 person, register online at

Saturday, October 4, 2014
Celebration: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm | Santa Cruz Wharf

Proposed Fireworks Spectacular: 9:00 pm | Main Beach
It's the celebration of the century for the Santa Cruz Wharf! We've been celebrating the Wharf all year, but we've saved the best for last. Join us for a special round-up of activities to mark the Santa Cruz Wharf's 100th birthday and honor its legacy as the longest wooden wharf on the coast of the United States. The event will kick off at 10:00 am with a historic procession down the Wharf led by the Santa Cruz High Marching Band. Community members are encouraged to attend in period dress as we mirror the opening back in 1914. The celebration will continue throughout the day including a Pop Up Museum presented by the Museum of Art and History celebrating Italian fishing heritage, antique cars, bocce ball, photo booths, sand castling PLUS fun live music including the Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band and Wally's Swing World. The Fireworks Spectacular will cap off the festivities with a bang! Sponsored by Whole Foods, Plantronics, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Wharf. Co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, KSBW TV, KPIG 107.5 FM and 101.7 The Beach. Visit for details, call 831-420-5273 or email. Cost: FREE!

Friday, October 31, 2014
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Santa Cruz Wharf
Little witches, goblins, ghosts, and their parents can enjoy safe and sane trick-or-treating at the Parks and Recreation Department’s Halloween celebration on the wharf. Treats for kids provided at wharf businesses. A children’s costume contest on the wharf stage will add to the fun!  Sponsored by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, KCBA TV, KPIG 107.5 FM and 101.7 The Beach. Visit, call 831-420-5273 or email. Cost: FREE!

Friday, December 5, 2014
11:00 am
Santa Cruz Wharf
The Santa Cruz Wharf officially opened in December 5, 1914, and thrived as a hub of the Santa Cruz fishing industry. One hundred years later, the Santa Cruz Wharf serves as a bustling center of recreation, including fishing, plus dining and shopping. To commemorate 100 years of the Santa Cruz Wharf’s history, culture and glorious setting, join us for special ceremonies on the Wharf stage with honored guests and Santa Cruz citizens. The Santa Cruz Wharf is our gateway to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and a testament to Santa Cruz's spirit of ingenuity, perseverance and optimism. Celebrate the milestone and toast the Santa Cruz Wharf's future at this free event. Co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Visit, call 831-420-5277 or email. Cost: FREE!

For information and sponsorship opportunities about these and other 100th Anniversary events, please call the Wharf 100 Committee at 831-420-5277. To donate, visit

Dig out your favorite Boston and/or Manhattan clam chowder recipes for the 34th Annual Clam Chowder Cook-Off, Saturday, February 21, 2015 at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The two divisions are Individual and Professional. Winners will have a chance to win round-trip tickets courtesy of United Airlines and cash prizes. Trophies are awarded to first place winners in each division as well as for “Most Original” and “Most Tasted.” Entry forms will be available in October 2014 online and at the Parks and Recreation Office, 323 Church St. Check out the 2014 Entry Form to get idea of competition. Deadline will be January 16, 2015 and includes two T-shirts per team and two Unlimited Ride Passes to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Call 831-420-5273 or email.

Entry fees:
Individuals $50.00
Professional (Restaurants, Caterers, Food Service) $75.00

Saturday, February 21, 2015
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Teams of chowder chefs come from all over the West Coast to compete for the prestigious award of “Best Clam Chowder.” Whip up your favorite recipe for red or white chowder or just come and sample the delicious variety of chowder and fun at the Boardwalk. Check Call the Chowder Hotline, 831-420-5273. Cost: Tasting kits $9.00.


41st Annual Roughwater Swim8/2/2014 11:00 AM
Santa Cruz Wharf Centennial Celebration10/4/2014 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Halloween on the Santa Cruz Wharf10/31/2014 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Santa Cruz Wharf 100th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremonies12/5/2014 11:00 AM