Juneteenth celebrations at downtown Santa Cruz's London Nelson Community Center
Maiya Evans (with microphone) addresses the crowd during Saturday’s Juneteenth celebration at Laurel Park.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Juneteenth gatherings, continued Pajaro uncertainty & up close with fish

Good morning, all. It’s Monday, June 19, and we’ve got a sunny, breezy forecast this Juneteenth around Santa Cruz County, with highs into the low 70s.

Plenty new on Lookout this holiday Monday; if you’re champing at the bit to get to it all, I won’t hold you back.
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It’s been a weekend of Juneteenth gatherings, and Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud has the details:

Juneteenth celebrations at downtown Santa Cruz's London Nelson Community Center
TahJiana Lundy dancing during Saturday’s Juneteenth celebration at Laurel Park.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Juneteenth celebrations kicked off Saturday in downtown Santa Cruz, with a music-filled parade making its way from city hall to Laurel Park, behind London Nelson Community Center. The park was alive with dance, music, poetry, food and art and crafts, with roughly 300 to 400 people taking part in the festivities throughout the day.

The celebration Sunday continued at Cowell Beach with a Liberation Paddle Out hosted by Black Surf Santa Cruz. Around 500 showed up to participate on land and sea in the event, in its third year.

Cowell Beach was the site of Black Surf Santa Cruz's Liberation Paddle Out
Cowell Beach was the site of Black Surf Santa Cruz’s Liberation Paddle Out.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“This event today was super successful. It was our biggest one yet,” Esabella Bonner, founder and executive director of Black Surf Santa Cruz, told Lookout. “It continues to be one of the most impactful ways to celebrate Juneteenth and liberation.

Cowell Beach was the site of Black Surf Santa Cruz's Liberation Paddle Out
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“There were so many people that got into the water for the first time. It was so beautiful and there was so much joy.”

Much work remains in Santa Cruz’s racial reckoning, activist Thairie Ritchie says, and learning and reflecting on the movement is the motivation behind a march he has organized for Monday afternoon downtown. Read on for more details and what he told Lookout’s Gabrielle Gillette.

Three months after the disastrous breach of the Pajaro River levee, more than 200 residents who evacuated from flooded areas are still living in hotels and trying to make ends meet, Hillary Ojeda reports. “I’ve been through so many things — I’ve always been able to get my family through them,” one of those residents told her. “But right now, this is out of my control. It’s almost as if my hands are tied.”

Monday also brings the latest installment of Lookout’s How I Got My Job series, with Kaya Henkes-Power talking to Tom Laidig, a fish researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While there’s plenty of time on and under the water, it’s not all glamor.

The day’s headlines also a look at local artists collective Made Fresh Crew from Wallace Baine and Community Voices opinion from Claudia Sternbach on the pleasures and pitfalls of aging — let’s get to ‘em.

As Santa Cruz celebrates Juneteenth, activist Thairie Ritchie says city’s racial reckoning hasn’t gone far enough

Community organizer Thairie Ritchie at Cowell Beach in honor of Juneteenth on Sunday, June 18, 2023
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

In the three years since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, conversations reflecting the racial reckoning going on across the country began to take place locally in Santa Cruz, activist Thairie Ritchie says, but the movement gradually flickered out. Ritchie is organizing a Juneteenth event, March Towards Love & Courage, starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the downtown London Nelson Community Center, where he hopes attendees achieve some of this reflection on the movement. Read more here from Gabrielle Gillette.

MORE: Men convicted of vandalizing BLM mural at Santa Cruz City Hall expected to help with repainting Saturday

Months after Pajaro levee breach, hundreds of flood evacuees are still living in hotels, waiting to return home

Pajaro resident Maria Cacho stands in front of the Rodeway Inn in Watsonville, on June 6, 2023.
(Hillary Ojeda / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“You go to sleep living one life, then you wake up living another,” says one Pajaro resident whose family of seven has been in limbo since the March floods. While they’ve received help from FEMA and local agencies, the high cost of living and the uneven post-flood response has them confused and worried. Hillary Ojeda reports.

STORMS 2023: ROAD TO RECOVERY: Find all of Lookout’s coverage of the winter storms and their aftermath in once place


Santa Cruz County Job Board

A busy morning already, and there’s more coming from Lookout. That includes In the Public Interest, Christopher Neely’s look at Santa Cruz County politics and policy, which will be hitting inboxes later Monday. Get that and all of Lookout’s newsletters, plus breaking news alerts, by clicking right here. You can also stay current with local news and views by following Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Have a good Monday!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz