Fireworks and cannon fire will grace the skies over Stearns Wharf this Saturday as Santa Barbara celebrates the 150th anniversary of the landmark that reshaped the city, and continues to draw both locals and tourists to its scenic vistas and local seafood.
Every thirty minutes between 11 a.m. and noon, the Mystic Whaler — a 1967 recreation of a 19th-century schooner — will pass by the wharf and use its cannons to perform ship-gun salutes to mark the occasion.
Following the final gun salute, the event’s chowder tasting competition will begin, featuring entries from wharf restaurants including Char West, Moby Dick’s, Santa Barbara Shellfish Co., and Harbor Restaurant, which earlier this year received an honorable mention at the 2022 Santa Cruz Chowder Contest.
An hour after the competition begins, the Santa Barbara Yacht Club will commence the parade of a fleet featuring more than 30 vessels. The water-born procession will be led by The Ranger, a 46-foot-long vessel that was the first private fishing yacht built on the West Coast and is the oldest boat in the Santa Barbara Harbor.
The day-long event will also feature a variety of other activities for all ages including an ocean-themed scavenger hunt, free rides for children accompanied by an adult on the Little Toot waterfront taxi and three concerts featuring Opera Santa Barbara, Tequila Mockingbird and Double Wide Kings.
The anniversary celebration will conclude with a formal convocation featuring local officials and emceed by Santa Barbara historian Neal Graffy, followed by five minutes of fireworks shot off from West Beach.
Stearns Wharf Merchants Association CEO Neil Bruskin told the News-Press that the celebration is the result of more than three years of preparation and planning, a huge undertaking that was made even more difficult by the wharf’s businesses’ fight for survival during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Bruskin hopes that, among other things, the anniversary celebration will help locals reconnect with an important feature of the city that is often regarded as a tourist attraction.
“I hope [event goers] will understand the historical significance of the wharf and how it still has some of the best views in Santa Barbara,” Mr. Bruskin said. “We have some really great restaurants and merchants out there, and all the businesses are owned by locals — we’re not big conglomerates. And we also hope that [the event] encourages locals to come out more often than to just bring visitors that come to town.”
All of the activities presented during the event have been made free to the public thanks to event sponsors Visit Santa Barbara, Jordano’s and Condor Express.
To learn more about the 150th anniversary celebration on Oct.8, visit stearnswharf.org.
Schedule of Events:
– 10:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.: Free rides for children 12 and under on Little Toot
– 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. & 12 p.m.: Ship-gun cannon salutes by the Mystic Whaler
– 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center Scavenger Hunt
– 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Face Painting by Santa Barbara Face Painting and Henna
– 11 a.m. – 11:45 p.m.: Opera Santa Barbara Concert
– 12 – 4 p.m.: Chowder Tasting Competition
– 1 p.m.: Santa Barbara Yacht Club Parade of Fleet
– 2 – 3:30 p.m.: Tequila Mockingbird Concert
– 4:30 – 7 p.m.: Double Wide Kings Concert
– 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.: Celebratory Convocation with Local Officials
– 7 p.m.: Fireworks Show