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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.

Parks and Recreation Events  

Saturday, May 17, 2014
11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Santa Cruz Wharf
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of our nation's most spectacular marine protected areas, will be celebrated at the Santa Cruz Wharf with free live music, crafts, educational talks and demonstrations and short eco-tours of the Wharf. Experience the unique marine sanctuary as you stroll the wharf and join the fun! Learn all about the things that have drawn locals and visitors to the Wharf for a century: fishing, history, sports, birding, sea lions, whale watching and more, including recent efforts to make the wharf sustainable. Interactive, educational and fun activities will be presented by groups like the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, the Sanctuary Exploration Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Institute, Save our Shores, UCSC, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and more.


  • Guided EcoTours by the Seymour Marine Discovery Center
  • Bird spotting by UCSC bird experts
  • Participatory art for kids
  • Interactive historical and scientific exhibits
  • Native plant pop-up parklet to relax on the Bay
  • Boatbuilding and fish cleaning demonstrations
  • Storytelling by Geoffrey Dunn
  • Free solar consultations by the City – bring your PG&E bill!
  • Food vendors featuring seafood caught in the Bay
  • Representatives on hand to share Rail Trail and Wharf Master Plan progress

Commentary from State and local elected officials and marine experts 
…and much, much more from groups like MBARI, USGS, the Marine Mammal Center, Sanctuary Exploration Center, Save our Shores, the Coastal Watershed Council, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Santa Cruz Longboard Union, and City of Santa Cruz programs. 

We encourage the use of alternative transportation and our free bike valet! 

  • 11 am Participating organizations’ activities begin! 
  • 11 am – 12 pm Wharf Stage: Welcome by MC Geoffrey Dunn 
    •  Words from elected officials and invited guests 
    • Commentary by Dan Haifley and Paul Michel on the Role the Wharf 
  • 12 pm – 12:45 pm Music: Zun Zun 
  • 1 pm – 1:45 pm Music: Peter Weiss, the singing scientist 
  • 2 pm – 4 pm MC Geoffrey Dunn storytelling
    •  Fish cleaning demonstration 
  • 4 pm – 4:45 pm Music: Reggae with Animo

Be on the lookout for an event guide with detailed information on activity times and locations in April! Sponsored by the City of Santa Cruz, Bay Photo, Sandbar Solar and Electric, Lighthouse Bank, ZNA Communications, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the UCSC Sustainability Office and Student Volunteer Center. Co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, KCBA TV and KPIG 107.5 FM. Visit or call 831-420-5273. Cost: FREE!   

Saturday, June 21, 2014
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Santa Cruz Wharf
Celebrating its centennial in 2014, the scenic and historic Santa Cruz Wharf is the perfect setting for a celebration of the surf spirit and classic surf wagons. More than 200 "woodies," gorgeous, pre-1950s cars that feature wood bodies, line the wharf. Music, T-shirts, memorabilia and prize drawings add to the free fun. Stroll the wharf and enjoy dozens of Wharf shops and restaurants and stellar coastal views while you soak up the sun and beauty of Northern California's premier woodie show. Presented by the Santa Cruz Woodies, Wharf Association and the City of Santa Cruz. Co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, KSBW TV and KPIG 107.5 FM. Free bike valet. Visit, call 831-420-5273 or email. Cost: FREE!

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. 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.

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! A special round-up of activities to mark the Santa Cruz Wharf's 100th birthday will be presented: a Cioppino Feed and Museum of Art and History Pop Up Museum celebrating Italian fishing heritage, fun live music, antique cars, photo booths, sand castling, Coast Guard demos and more! A proposed Fireworks Spectacular will cap off the festivities. 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.


Sanctuary Celebration 5/17/2014 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
20th Annual Woodies on the Wharf6/21/2014 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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