Visitors play in the sand during the Capitola Beach Festival – Santa Cruz Sentinel


CAPITOLA — Visitors from all over Monterey Bay and beyond came out to play in the sand Saturday at Capitola Beach for the Capitola Beach Festival. The weekend-long event started early Saturday morning with the fun Little Wharf 3-Miler Race and continued on the beach with a sand sculpture contest, scavenger hunt and art contest for children.

“It’s so fun to see all the families here today,” said Capitola Beach Festival Chair Mary Beth Cahalen. “We have a lot of new events this year, corn hole, disc golf and treasure hunt is also new. The best part is that we have a totally different treasure hunt tomorrow, so if you do it today, you can do it tomorrow too.

Festival-goers could also watch float construction crews build their barges on the beach, after determining that Soquel Creek was too low for the usual boat parade. The stationary float team at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History was a throwback to the Victorian-era Venetian water festivals of Santa Cruz and Capitola.

The teams build their floats for the beach parade. Aric Sleeper / Sentinel of Santa Cruz

“We are working with the MCXT artist collective, which has done an art and history residency,” said Everett Ó Cillín, head of exhibitions and projects at the MAH. “We thought about all the different kinds of festivities that took place on the waterways, so we have flowers because of the Begonia festival and it’s also inspired by the Venetian water carnivals that took place at the end of the 1860s here in Santa Cruz.We also have nods to the native history of the area.

Young artist Olivia Kennedy, 11, admired the ornate Team MAH float ahead of the children’s art competition. She considered designing the flowered barge for her entry in the competition, but did not commit to the idea. She was afraid that at the start of the contest she would get a block from the artist and wanted to make sure she had an idea of ​​a fallback just in case.

“I just don’t want to pass out and have artist block because that’s the worst,” Olivia said. “I just want to do well.”

More than 20 teams of sand sculptors lined Capitola Beach with different themes. There were sand dragons, shrunken cities, towers and castles designed to accommodate both humans and mermaids, which were sculpted by father-daughter team Robert and Lilah Pasquale of Santa Cruz.

“The original plan was to replicate the village as a castle, but the tide came in and we had to split the castle in two,” said Robert Pasquale.

“One half is a city and the other half is a castle for mermaids, and there’s a bridge between each place,” Lilah added.

Sand artists sculpt their masterpieces at the Capitola <a class=Beach Festival. Aric Sleeper / Sentinel of Santa Cruz” width=”2236″ height=”425″ data-sizes=”auto” src=”″ srcset=” 620w, 780w, 810w, 1280w, 1860w”/>
Sand artists sculpt their masterpieces at the Capitola Beach Festival. Aric Sleeper / Sentinel of Santa Cruz

Other sculptors had less conventional ideas like Fred Pfister sculpting a sports car in the sand with a trowel. However, he still hadn’t determined what make and model of car he was designing, just that he was fast.

“I’m just doing a vehicle and having fun because it’s a great day,” Pfister said. “I’m trying to do a Porsche or maybe a Mustang or maybe a Challenger. I’m not sure yet.”

Sand sculpture competition judge Bill Lewis told the Sentinel that it’s not just the overall quality and intricacy of the sculptures that make them the winners, but also the enthusiasm and attitude of the teams that hold them. build.

“We’re looking for a variety of things,” Lewis said. “The quality of the chateau and the enthusiasm of the team and the effort they put in, and how close they fit to the theme, which is “The Wonder of Everything.”

One of the biggest teams of sand sculptors was carving a dragon on the beach. The extended family was grateful for the fog as it meant the sculptures didn’t dry out as quickly.

“We do Dug the Dragon because we dug it,” Bay Area Rosemary Trenholm said. “We probably don’t have all the right tools with us to do this, but we have a lot of heart.”

At the children’s art competition table, the Begonia Festival became the organizers of the Beach Festival, Juanita Catley and Ann Litchfield ensured that the young artists had all the materials they needed to create their masterpieces such as Zion, 3, and her sister, Naima, 4, who were working on marine-themed artwork using markers as medium.

Children creating artwork for children's art competition.  Aric Sleeper / Sentinel of Santa Cruz
Children creating artwork for children’s art competition. Aric Sleeper / Sentinel of Santa Cruz

“Our little guy likes to color, but not too much so his room isn’t super colorful. It’s his style,” said Zion’s father, Corey Santistevan of San Jose, who also participated in the fun ride. “Naima’s is a bit different. She’s pretty big in pink and purple and that’s her style.

Besides the competitors, festival-goers were thrilled to see so many sand sculptures and floats and children’s works in progress and eagerly awaited the final results, like Santa Cruz’s Michael Levy.

“In the past, we’ve come to see so many amazing, professional sandcastles,” Levy said. “We’ll stick around to see if there will be the same wonder we’ve seen in the past.”

The Capitola Beach Festival continues tomorrow morning on Capitola Beach and Esplanade Park.

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