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Mural design contest announced for Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park. 

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is facilitating a mural design contest in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

Imagination and creativity will be key components of the winning design. The art also should relate to and include the name “Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park” and may commemorate the 25th anniversary of the park. Submissions should avoid confusion with the nearby Santa Cruz Mission Chapel replica at Emmett and School streets.

Learn more and download the application on the Santa Cruz State Historic Park "project" page.

The winning design will be chosen by a committee of representatives from California State Parks and Friends, as well as interested community members. The winner will be announced by April 1, 2016, and will receive a $500 cash prize.

Discover the 'Luck o' the Castros.'

A single choice can change the course of history. The Castro Adobe could have crumbled at a number of points in the last 160 years, but enough of those choices kept this one-of-a-kind family home standing. Is it luck?

Join State Parks interpreter Joseph Carr Ritchie for this easy guided walk to hear the stories of the Pajaro Valley’s past, 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 19. See how the Castro Adobe has survived changes of nationality and ownership, occasional neglect and frequent remodeling, and even major earthquakes.

Admission is free, though donations are gratefully accepted. Parking is limited; carpooling is encouraged. This new State Historic Park is an active construction site, and is open only during scheduled events. The Castro Adobe is at 184 Old Adobe Road, Watsonville. Learn more online.

Lend a hand at the Castro Adobe Archaeology Project this Saturday.

We need your help at the Castro Adobe Archaeology Project. We are looking for volunteers to screen for artifacts and learn about the workings of an on-going archaeological dig. We have buckets of dirt from the dig to process and can use your hands to get the job done.

As part of the Accessible Lift and Interior Staircase Project, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks contracted with Albion Environmental, Inc. to conduct archaeological data recovery in Room 102 of the Rancho San Andrés Castro Adobe.

Volunteers are invited to join the dig 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Space is limited. Due to safety and logistics we request volunteers RSVP to Jorge Savala, Community Outreach Director, jorge@thatsmypark.org or (831) 429-1840 ext. 110. Bring a refillable water bottle and your own lunch.

Volunteers also be invited on a special tour, "Luck o' the Castros," conducted by State Parks Interpreter Joseph Carr Ritchie at 11 a.m. Get more information about the tour and the Castro Adobe in the article above. 

Now's the time to see elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park.

Stroll over sand dunes guided by a docent naturalist to visit a large colony of Northern elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park.

The tours are offered daily between 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. through Thursday, March 31. These popular guided walks are 3 miles round trip and last 2.5 hours. They take place rain or shine, so be prepared for windy, rainy conditions as well as muddy trails. Layered clothing, sturdy shoes and rain gear are strongly advised. Umbrellas and strollers are not permitted. Pets are not allowed in the park.

Advance reservations are strongly recommended. Cost is $7 per person. Please contact Reserve America at 1-800-444-4445 or make a reservation online. Some drop-in spots also are available on the tours.

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