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Learn about the Castros' coastal connection at a Sunset Beach State Park campfire program.  
Castro-Coastal Connection, a campfire event led by State Parks Interpreter Joseph Carr Ritchie, will explain the link between Santa Cruz County’s first State Beach, Sunset State Beach, and Castro Adobe State Historic Park, the county’s newest State Historic Park. The free event will be offered at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, and Saturday, Aug. 20.

Once upon a time, the properties currently owned by State Parks were part of a larger land grant holding of the Castro family. The Castros arrived in California as part of the Anza Expedition 240 years ago and eventually made their way to Santa Cruz County. During the Mexican Rancho period of 1821-1850, they grazed cattle in the coastal hills and shipped hides from an embarcadero (wharf) that once existed between Sunset and Manresa State Beaches.
 
The program, which includes a slideshow, hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows, aims to bring local families out to experience the State Beach and enjoy the bilingual (English/Spanish) presentation. The talk will be in the campground area at Sunset State Beach, 201 Sunset Beach Road in Watsonville. The program is free. Parking is $10 and supports the park. Participants will be invited to future Open House events at the Castro Adobe State Historic Park.
Celebrate the 25th year of Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park marks its 25th anniversary in 2016 and, to celebrate, is hosting special events throughout the summer and fall. 

Visit on Thursdays for Junior Rangers, a free program for kids ages 7-12. Kids learn about the art of the Missions, sailing in the 1850s, the Californio era and more. Programs are 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Also Thursdays, enjoy lunch on the patio at the PopUp Picnic in the Park events, weekly from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through Aug. 25. There will be a rotating slate of food vendors, or bring a brown bag lunch to enjoy.

Once a month, the park hosts an Old-Fashioned Family Campfire from 5:30-8 p.m. Campfires are Fridays, July 22 and Aug. 19. See more events on our calendar.

Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park is at 144 School St., Santa Cruz. The park is open daily Mondays and Thursday to Sunday. Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted.
Steamer Lane Supply opens at Lighthouse Field State Beach 
Visitors to Lighthouse Field State Beach and West Cliff Drive now have a spot to grab coffee, lunch and even some local swag. Steamer Lane Supply, a brick-and-mortar version of the TruckStopSC food truck, opened in a vacant space next to the park's bathrooms in mid-June. 

The eatery has a concession agreement through California State Parks. Stocked with everything from snacks to surf wax, the shop eschews plastic packaging to protect the marine life in the Monterey Bay. 

“We could easily sell all sorts of pre-packaged stuff but we care too much about the park and the bay to risk the chance of plastic containers and packaging ending up on the ground or the water,” co-owner Fran Grayson said.

Steamer Lane Supply hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, with plans to increase hours later in the summer. Read more in this Santa Cruz Sentinel article.
Fourth annual Mole & Mariachi Festival gets cookin'!  
The fourth annual Mole & Mariachi Festival will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 and now is the time for chefs — or inspired home cooks — to sign up to compete in the mole cook-off. Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is also seeking event sponsors, and taking applications for food and art vendors. Already, defending People's Choice winner My Mom's Mole and Judge's Choice winner Mama Marquita have announced plans to compete. Three other local chefs are signed up as well.

The popular cultural festival is held at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, 144 School St. in Santa Cruz. It features a full day of family-friendly fun, including dance troupes, mariachi bands, kids' crafts, a beer garden, raffle, tours of the Mission Adobe and — of course — the mole tasting. Learn more about how to get involved in this great community event, which benefits Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park programs and ongoing preservation efforts.
Meet author and illustrator Marni Fylling — and Friends' members receive a discount on her book.
Come to Natural Bridges State Beach for a special presentation by Marni Fylling, author and illustrator of Fylling’s Illustrated Guide to Pacific Coast Tidepools, on Saturday, July 23. Fylling will discuss her education, how she came to be a scientific illustrator, what makes the discipline unique and how she approaches her illustrations, as well as the genesis of the book itself. She’ll also talk about the scientific illustration program that used to be located at UC Santa Cruz and is now at CSUMB. The presentation will include a slideshow of her illustrations. After the presentation we will have a Q&A with the author, followed by a book signing. We will be providing light refreshments.

The Tidepool Book Talk with Marni Fylling will be 4-6 p.m. at the Natural Bridges Visitor Center. Members of Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History will be able to buy Fylling's book, published by Heyday books, for $10 — $5 off the cover price. Become a Friends member at the event and receive the discount. 

This is a free event. Parking at Natural Bridge is $10 and supports the park.
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