Time to get out your red, white and blue. It's 4th of July in Santa Cruz.
Time to get out your red, white and blue. It’s 4th of July in Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Wallace Baine

Weekender: Get ready for Fourth of July in Santa Cruz County

Hi friends,

Every year around this time, those strange little roadside stands pop up selling you things that sizzle and sparkle and then disappear as quickly as they came. You’ve reached the halfway point of 2023. Stay safe, and Happy Fourth!

Now, on with the show.

This Just In!

Among the newly booked shows and appearances across the county this week is Santa Cruz writer and psychotherapist Lauren Crux debuting her new book “Difficult Beauty” at Bookshop Santa Cruz Aug. 23. Popular country singer Ashley Cooke comes to The Catalyst Sept. 14. The one-and-only Sir Mix A Lot is set for The Catalyst Aug. 10. Cowboy balladeer Dave Stamey will be at Hallcrest Vineyards in Felton Aug. 27. And smooth R&B man James Hunter lights it up at Moe’s Alley Sept. 23. Check out our curated list of the best in upcoming performances and appearances in Santa Cruz County in Down the Line.

The logo for Baine's Nine

B9: What’s what in the week ahead

Here they are, nine necessary know-abouts for the week ahead. It’s the rainbow-tinted B9:

1. Double-header time at the Civic as Santa Cruz Roller Derby brings out its best skaters. Helmets are not required just to watch.
2. Cabrillo Stage is ready to unveil its new summer production, the immortal “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
3. The great rock vocalist James Durbin plays live on the Fourth of July in Aptos Village Park, if you like a little rambunctiousness in your holiday.
4. Carolyn Sills, some Afrobeat, a few food trucks, and a whole lot of mellow Santa Cruz vibes await at Friday’s Midtown Summer Block Party on Soquel Ave.
5. Got a jones for New Orleans-style funk? Then you probably know all about the wild jam band Dumpstaphunk, paying a visit to Moe’s Friday.
6. Independence Day is a nice day for run, wouldn’t you agree? The Santa Cruz Firecracker race through Harvey West Park kicks off at 8 a.m.
7. The thinking person’s post-punk band Protomartyr brings its snarly, fuzzy sound to Moe’s Alley Sunday.
8. Sure, trivia events are fun. But what if you get to sing along to Beach Boys tunes?
9. Extra Large looms extra large in the memories and imaginations of anyone who’s jammed to live music on Santa Cruz beaches. They play the Boardwalk tonight.

Looking forward to the Fourth

Get out your flags and celebrate the 4th of July.
(Photo by Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Independence Day is upon us again, dropping in on a Tuesday this year, and that means warnings and reminders from local officials that fireworks are illegal in many jurisdictions. The city of Santa Cruz, for instance, prohibits all fireworks at all times, including the Fourth. Fireworks are also officially illegal in all parts of unincorporated Santa Cruz County, including the San Lorenzo Valley, Aptos, Soquel and the Pajaro Valley. In Capitola and Watsonville, fireworks are legal only on the Fourth, only on private property, and only the “safe-and-sane” variety. “Safe-and-sane” fireworks include anything that doesn’t explode or is not shot up in the air — like sparklers, smokeballs, pinwheels and things that spin on the ground. Anything else is verboten, and city police and sheriff’s office staff will be out looking to cite anyone who doesn’t comply.

Given the potentially grave fire danger as well as the annual anxieties about loud noises and their effects on pets and animals, it’s clear that fireworks are slowly edging toward oblivion, at least in Santa Cruz County. It’s a bit surprising they’re tolerated at all anymore. But many community groups benefit from funds raised by sanctioned fireworks stands in places like Watsonville. Sure, traditionalists insist that Independence Day is not the same without exploding plumage in the sky. But that sounds more and more like a losing argument.

So, what is happening on the Fourth of July?

Preston Boomer with his pipe organ at Boomeria, his Bonny Doon fairyland.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

In Scotts Valley, the Fourth will be celebrated with a parade and flyover. The parade is set to begin at 1 p.m. along Scotts Valley Drive, between Carbonera Way and El Pueblo.

The Spirit of Watsonville parade, with antique cars, equestrian riders and other cool stuff, will start up at 12:30 p.m. at Freedom Boulevard and Main Street in Watsonville. The parade will proceed down Main to First Street, with booths and activities on Peck Street near the downtown plaza.

You can also have some family-oriented fun, including live music and a train ride, at Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton. Up the valley a bit more, Boulder Creek is also planning to hold its annual parade and block party.

And, we can never forget “The World’s Shortest Parade,” held annually on July 4 in Aptos, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending up at Aptos Village Park with games, food trucks, beverages and vendors, along with live music from James Durbin & the Lost Boyz.

But if you just have to see big fireworks for the Fourth, downtown San Jose is the place to be, or perhaps Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. Or maybe, if you’re adventurous and just love driving I-680, there’s Livermore as well. Hanging out at home with friends and a few fruity cocktails is always an option too. Maybe the best one. Happy Independence Day!

Weekender ad Catalyst 6/22
(The Catalyst Club)

Earworm of the Week

“It was a hot afternoon/ the last day of June/ And the sun was a demon …” — So began Bobby Goldsboro’s hit song “Summer (The First Time”), released exactly 50 years ago today, just in time for the last day of June in 1973. The song’s moody, slightly ominous piano riff is instantly recognizable and its theme has become somewhat infamous. The song is both eerily relevant to today — “110 in the shade” sounds like what Texas is dealing with now — and very much of its time. It’s the story of a young man — it must be said, a minor, at 17 — who is seduced by an older woman of 31.

Rich in sensuous detail and masterfully wrapped in an aural wash of nostalgia, “Summer (The First Time),” by today’s standards, can crank up the cringe factor with lines such as “The boy took her hand, but I saw the sun rise as a man.” A year after Goldsboro’s release, soul singer Millie Jackson countered with a cover switching the genders, with a 31-year-old man seducing a 17-year-old girl. This was an era, remember, when songs like “Only Sixteen” were not uncommon on the charts and on the radio. There is, however, a bit of resonance these days with the weird new Jennifer Lawrence comedy “No Hard Feelings” (though the young man there is at least 19). Either way, “Summer (The First Time) ranks as a fascinating pop curiosity, whether the song gives you the warm feelies or the creeps.

Check it out, on the last day of June.

Bobby Goldsboro’s hit song “Summer (The First Time”) was released exactly 50 years ago today.

All the Earworms in one place

For those who’ve been following my Earworm of the Week, I’ve assembled a playlist that contains them all.

Santa Cruz County Trivia

What Santa Cruz-based company played a crucial role in the historic Apollo 11 moon landing?

President Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon strolling on the beach on San Clemente, August 20, 1971
(White House Photo Office.)

Last week’s answer: Who was the most recent Republican presidential candidate to get more than 50% of the vote in Santa Cruz County? Yes, it’s something of a trick question. The last Republican candidate to win the county outright was Ronald Reagan back in 1980, but third-party independent John Anderson’s presence in the race prevented Reagan from getting a majority of all votes cast. For that, you’ve have to go back to 1968 when California favorite-son Richard Nixon eked out a win locally against Democrat Hubert Humphrey. You read that right, Nixon won Santa Cruz County at the height of the hippie era. Who woulda thunk?


That’s all I got, friends. Come at me with comments, ideas, complaints, or thundering insights. Thanks to all Lookout members for your faith and support, and please, spread the word on what we’re doing.