Stearns Wharf’s 150th anniversary was celebrated Saturday with a grand birthday bash. The iconic structure has served as Santa Barbara’s front door, the birthplace of an industry and the community’s plank park and was honored by cannon fire, activities, fireworks and visit from a tall ship.
“John Stearns opened the gateway to Santa Barbara. Even before the railway came to Santa Barbara the wharf allowed for a simple method to transfer cargo and load people from ships to shore. This created commerce and allowed Santa Barbara to grow and become the city it is today,” Neil Bruskin, Stearns Wharf Business Association President, told the News-Press.
The celebration began with a performance by Opera Santa Barbara. The tall ship Mystic Whaler prowled the waters off the wharf from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., which included cannon fire.
Just after lunchtime the sea was filled with a group of sail boats as the Santa Barbara Yacht Club (SBYC) honored the wharf with a ceremonial regatta. At 2 p.m. at the end of the wharf, local band Tequila Mockingbird played their signature interpretation of the best classic and modern rock, blues, funk and groove.
Children’s activities included face painting, a scavenger hunt with prizes and free boat rides on Lil’ Toot. Beginning at noon, wharf restaurants held a competition including free tastings to see who served the best clam chowder.
Doublewide Kings took over the bandstand at 4:30 p.m., playing a uniquely tweaked blend of original music and cover tunes of roots-rock, americana, country-blues and the glory days of 70s FM radio.
The celebratory convocation took place at 5:30 p.m. featuring a presentation by historian Neal Graffy and speakers who included Supervisor Gregg Hart, Mayor Randy Rowse and Congressman Salud Carbajal, according to Mr. Bruskin.
Concerts were going on all day and restaurants provided samples of their clam chowder. Attendees had the opportunity to enjoy lunch and dinner, shop at gift shops, enjoy ice cream and candy, do some wine tasting, take a water taxi ride, enjoy the Sea Center and have their palms read. The SBYC boat parade included the firing of the wharf’s cannon. Fishing poles were made available for rent to those wanting to fish, according to Mr. Bruskin.
The day of family fun ended with a brilliant fireworks show.
For more information on yesterday’s event, visit https://stearnswharf.org/.