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Santa Barbara’s “Merry” Season

Strolling through festively-decorated shops at La Arcada on State Street might make you forget you're in Southern California (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer Traffic411)

Strolling through festively-decorated shops at La Arcada on State Street might make you forget you’re in Southern California (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer Traffic411)

The 2015 holiday season is upon us and Santa Barbara is wasting no time getting into the festive Spirit.

Thousands of spectators are expected to line State Street on Friday, December 4th, for the 63rd Annual Downtown Holiday Parade. Starting at 6:30pm with a spectacular tree lighting, the parade will move down State Street from Sola to Cota streets.  Kids will have a chance to meet with Santa ahead of the event. Mr. Claus will be at center court of the Paseo Nuevo mall from 4pm-5:30pm.

On Sunday, December 6th, the Parade of Lights boat parade will brighten up the water between the City Pier and Stearn’s Wharf. The parade starts at 5:30pm and will be followed by a fireworks show. But, plan to head to the City Pier (near the Maritime Museum) early to where there will be tons of snow to play in and other kid-friendly activities.  (Check back soon to Traffic411 for my post on the best So Cal holiday boat parades).

Some Santa Barbara neighborhoods go all out Decking the Halls and homes! (Photo Ken Pfeiffer Traffic411)

Some Santa Barbara neighborhoods go all out Decking the Halls and homes! (Photo Ken Pfeiffer Traffic411)

Some neighborhoods go overboard on the Christmas lights and decorations. A ‘Jump on the School Bus’ or Trolley tour (the Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights website says they are sold out?). Tours run December 10-23 and will take you to all of the best locations.

Or, you can drive yourself, but be aware that the streets get packed with cars, especially on the weekends. You’ll find some of the best decorations along Portesuello Ave (between Las Positas and Modoc) and the lower east side (east of Milpas between Cota and the Hwy. 101).

The Nutcracker Ballet is a Santa Barbara tradition. The program, with a live, full symphony orchestra, takes place at the Arlington Theater the second weekend in December (this year it’s 12/12-13/2015).

Also Read: 2015 Holiday Boat Parade Guide

If you’re into Yuletide classics as well as  “The Great American Songbook,” check out Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Christmas at the Granada Theater, December 8th and 9th.  This lively show promises to channel the best of Frank, Dean, Sammy and Joey back in the days when the Rat Pack ruled the Vegas Strip.

For some family fun, “Fiesta de Navidad” at Casa Dolores  honors the beauty and traditions of Mexico with folk art scenes of the nativity, a Mexican chocolate display and more. Guests are encouraged to bring a gift or donation of arts supplies for local children’s groups. It’s on Friday, December 18th from 4-6pm.

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You won’t want to miss the nativity scene at Old Mission Santa Barbara, complete with life-size statues and live animals.

Do you have a favorite Santa Barbara holiday tradition or place to visit? Please share with me (email: Traffic411-at-aol-dot-com).

Portion's of the city's lower east side go all out with Christmas lights and decorations (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Portion’s of the city’s lower east side go all out with Christmas lights and decorations (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Santa Barbara holiday lights (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Santa Barbara holiday lights (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

A trolley tour will ensure you see many of the best Christmas lights displays in Santa Barbara (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

A trolley tour will ensure you see many of the best Christmas lights displays in Santa Barbara (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

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Industry leaders converge in CA’s oil country

Rep. Kevin McCarthy , Bakersfield Native, speaks to a sold-out crowd at the West Kern Petroleum Summit (Photo: Traffic411)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy , Bakersfield Native, speaks to a sold-out crowd at the West Kern Petroleum Summit (Photo: Traffic411)

What do a Texas oil tycoon, a California Congressman and a TV game show have in common? They were all in attendance at the recent West Kern Petroleum Summit (#WKPSummit2015) in Kern County.

Hometown hero and Bakersfield native, Rep. Kevin McCarthy got the day going, telling the sold-out crowd of industry professionals how important their line of work is to the nation’s economic health.

“Oil and gas employment outpaced the total of all other private sector jobs. It brought this country back.”

McCarthy went on to moderate a panel on California energy innovations. Christina Sistrunk, CEO of Aera Energy LLC (a Shell/Exxon partnership) brought up the need to conduct fracking (hydraulic fracturing) “in an environmentally responsible way.”

Rob Duchow with the Southern California Gas Company pointed out that 52% of electricity in the state is generated by natural gas, adding that the cleanest of all fossil fuel options powers a lot of wind & solar farms ‘when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.”

Famous oil entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens was the headliner, receiving multiple standing ovations, including one when he first appeared on stage.

Alex Trebek, T. Boone Pickens and Sheri Horn-Bunk of the Taft College Foundation backstage at the West Kern Petroleum Summit in Taft, CA (Photo: Alex Horvath)

Alex Trebek, T. Boone Pickens and Sheri Horn-Bunk of the Taft College Foundation backstage at the West Kern Petroleum Summit in Taft, CA (Photo: Alex Horvath)

In a sit-down conversation with Greta Lydecker, vice president of Chevron, ‘Boone’ talked oil and politics.  He reiterated a prediction that oil would rise to $70 a barrel within six months.

Pickens, who has been a Jeb Bush supporter, told the audience he likes another 2016 GOP presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina. He said he thought she performed the best in the debate and is “Smarter than the guys (her competition) are.”

Tune-in to my chat with Boone Pickens as he makes his case for the Keystone XL Pipeline. He also explains why he’s considering a lawsuit against the government in Ontario, Canada, and reveals the Los Angeles area beach city where he’d like to live when (if ever) he retires.

The industry executives I spoke with were optimistic about the business, even though the price of crude oil is hovering at under $50 a barrel, not far from a 52 week low.

“We’re in a commodity business,” reasoned Gene Voiland, chairman of Valley Republic Bank and former (founding) CEO of Aera Energy. “The unusual price was $100 a barrel.”

Voiland told me he doesn’t agree with federal geologist estimates, dramatically lowering the amount of recoverable oil in California’s Monterey shale formation.

“The Monterey shale has an enormous amount of oil in it. The question is, what’s it going to take to unlock it?”

Jeopardy! Host Alex Trebek emceed the event. In between panels Trebek kept the audience engaged by sharing behind-the-scenes trivia about the iconic TV game show.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R CA) with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek at the 2015 West Kern Petroleum Summit (Photo: Alex Horvath)

Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R CA) with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek at the 2015 West Kern Petroleum Summit (Photo: Alex Horvath)

One of the most interesting things for me was seeing how many women were in the audience and on stage. Aera Energy CEO Christina Sistrunk, said oil is a good business for women.

“It is an industry that really values talent, and so you do see women get the opportunity to contribute at the highest levels.”

Sistrunk, who met her husband while working on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, told me one thing she was exited to find after agreeing to take the job in Bakersfield.

“We seem to have a more abundance of senior women here in the community. And, it adds a different dimension to working here, which I’m really enjoying.”

Aera Energy president & CEO Christina Sistrunk talks about how she found her way into, and rose to the top ranks, of the traditionally male-dominated oil industry. (Click to listen)

The event took place underneath a giant white tent in the tiny oil town of Taft, along the western edge of Kern County.  The West Kern Oil Summit is presented by the Taft College Foundation, whose goal is to provide training by working with industries to put people to work.

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Taft’s Oildorado Days

The Oildorado Days 'sheriff' and his posse rounded me up, fortunately I was able to talk my way out of going to jail! (Photo Traffic411)

The Oildorado Days ‘sheriff’ and his posse rounded me up, fortunately I was able to talk my way out of landing in the pokey! (Photo Traffic411)

I probably have my father to thank for my love of driving and the open road. As a child, my family was heading off on a road trip nearly every weekend in the summer, often to waterski at Lakes Naciemento or Mead.

So, when I had a chance to attend an Oil Summit in Kern County this week I went for it, even though it was a long day trip from Santa Barbara (note: watch for my upcoming post on the Summit, including my chat with iconic oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens). I’m so happy I did, in part because I got to experience the small town of Taft during it’s big city pride celebration.

Oildorado Days (which takes place every five years) is Taft’s way of paying homage to its earliest citizens. At one time the headquarters for Standard Oil (now Chevron), this town was built around oil. Today, a good portion of its 7,000 residents work in the oil business. There’s even a life size Oilworkers Monument.

Also Read: Stuck on Highway 166

Here’s my podcast with Taft city council member Josh Bryant. Josh tells me about some Oildorado Days activities including western traditions (the beard and bun contests), parades and even a three day music festival. This year’s Oildorado Days bash wraps up this weekend, but I still want to share this podcast with you, just in case it perks your interest enough to want to mark your calendar for the next Oildorado Days in 2020.

Josh Bryant explains what’s cool about Oildorado Days, along what’s so wonderful about visiting or living in Taft.

Taft's Oilworker Monument pays tribute to the city's earliest residents, and current citizens. (Photo Traffic411).

Taft’s Oilworker Monument pays tribute to the city’s earliest residents, and current citizens. (Photo Traffic411).

The Taft Monument to Oilworkers is the largest bronze sculpture in California (according to photographer Ben Victor, click to see his beautiful images), and worth seeing when you visit downtown Taft.

 

 

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Stuck on Highway 166

A rainbow appears over the Cuyama Valley as stranded travelers sit for hours in their car waiting for Highway 166 to be cleared of debris after the roadway flooded. (Photo: Traffic411)

A rainbow appears over the Cuyama Valley as stranded travelers sit for hours in their car waiting for Highway 166 to be cleared of debris after the roadway flooded. (Photo: Traffic411)

When I set out for Kern County on Friday morning I was looking forward to taking the 166 from Santa Maria to Taft. My original plan to take the 33 up and over Ojai and into Maricopa was scratched due to the mudslides caused by flash flooding a day earlier. The downpour also triggered mudslides that closed Interstate 5 overnight, the main artery linking Los Angeles to the Central Valley.

From Santa Barbara, taking the 166 instead of the 33 added an hour to the drive, but I headed out before sunrise and made it to Taft in three hours. Coming home was a different story. A flash flood warning was issued for the 166 due to thunderstorms. But, since I5 was just reopening with escorts, I took my chances on the 166.

I didn’t get very far before receiving a text alert from KEYT News saying that a ‘flash flood was reported in Cuyama Valley… with many cars stuck in the mud.” I had planned to stop for dinner at the Cuyama Buckhorn, a newly-reopened vintage roadside saloon/restaurant/motel. So, I pulled in to the restaurant and asked if anyone knew the location of the mudslides.  The bartender said he didn’t but, that firetrucks with sirens blaring had zoomed by about five minutes ago. He said that meant that the emergency workers may soon be shutting down the road.

Also Read: Taft’s Oildorado Days

I skipped my plans for dinner & a beer and hopped back in my car to try to get through on the single lane road before it became impassable. But, I was too late – ten minutes up the road I hit stopped traffic. And, the line of cars and drivers were stranded there for two hours. CHP SUVs and an ambulance or two roared by, what looked like a Sheriff’s helicopter and an airplane (possibly KEYT News getting aerial footage?) but drivers down below were stuck not knowing what was happening.

KNX NewsRadio out of Los Angeles came in sketchy on my radio and I could hear traffic reporter (and my friend) Denise Fondo mentioning the trouble on the 166, but she had the location wrong (the CHP must have shut down the 166 back at the 33 because the road was impassable). I tried for an hour to call the KNX Traffic Line with no luck since my phone had no signal. Then I noticed in my rear view mirror that the driver behind me was talking on his phone. He loaned it to me to call the radio station to report our traffic tie up.

Big kudos to Fondo for taking the time to look into the reason for our standstill – even though the 166 is way outside of the Los Angeles metro area (still, you have lots of KNX listeners in Santa Barbara County, KNX!). Fondo was busy enough reporting on an extra busy Friday afternoon commute – with the newly-opened I5, and an hours-long closure of the 101 in both directions through Studio City because of a suicidal man threatening to jump. So, thank you Denise!

As it turned out, Thankfully, it turned out, no cars were stuck in the mud, which covered the roadway and what appeared to be a bridge near Spanish Ranch. After sitting still for two hours, cars started moving through the muddy area. By this time it was dark, and what a beautiful night in Cuyama. Clear skies, a bright crescent shaped moon and stars.

Highway 101 was jammed with big rigs at 10PM on Friday night, as truckers found an alternate route to the I5 closure. (Photo: Traffic411)

Highway 101 was jammed with big rigs at 10PM on Friday night, as truckers found an alternate route to the I5 closure. (Photo: Traffic411)

An hour later, there was another slowdown merging onto Hwy 101 in Santa Maria. But the real gridlock came getting into the city of Santa Barbara.  The 101 was wall to wall big rigs. It’s amazing what the closure of one major freeway (Interstate 5) can do.  My expected three hour drive home from Kern County turned into a six hour ordeal! Boy, was I happy to (finally) get home to Santa Barbara.

Let’s hope that with the I5 reopened, the truckers will be heading for the Grapevine and leaving the 101 to the cars.

Keep in mind, the CHP & Caltrans says it could be days before the 58 (another popular route for truckers) is cleared of debris and reopens. According to Caltrans QuickMap, Hwy 33 is open at the Wheeler Gorge Campground (as of Saturday morning).

This ordeal has me making sure I have some warm clothes, sturdy shoes, extra water and some kind fo food (nuts, power bars) in the trunk, to be prepared for an emergency.

 

NOTE: There could be more flooding on Hwy 166 Saturday – A flash flood watch is in effect through tonight for  the Cuyama Valley as well as the Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo & Ventura County mountain areas.

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La Purisima Mission

Take a self-guided tour at La Purisima Mission State Park in Lompoc. You can also explore miles of hiking trails at this historic spot on California's Central Coast (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

Take a self-guided tour at La Purisima Mission State Park in Lompoc. You can also explore miles of hiking trails at this historic spot on California’s Central Coast (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

One of several confession boxes at La Purisima Mission (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

One of several confession boxes at La Purisima Mission (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

If the recent Canonization of Father Junipero Serra has piqued your interest in California history, you might want to visit some of the Golden State’s historic missions. Several of these religious outposts are located along the Central Coast.

Old Mission Santa Barbara is known as “Queen of the Missions” – perhaps rightly so because of its graceful beauty as well as being located in the rustic Mission Canyon area of Santa Barbara. Some lesser-known missions are also worth a visit, including La Purisima Mission State Park in Lompoc.

An intricate shrine inside the chapel of of La Purisima Mission in Lompoc (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

An intricate shrine inside the chapel of of La Purisima Mission in Lompoc (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

La Purisima Mission is reportedly the most extensively renovated California Mission. The self-guided tour of the spacious grounds makes for a very relaxing visit.

You can stroll through the arches next to the mission bells to the old burial ground. Then, take the dirt pathway along the length of the single-story adobe structure, peeking inside rooms from the church to the weaver’s quarters, soldiers room and kitchens.

Also Read/Listen: Central Coast Tribal Members Discuss Their Views on St. Serra (my KCBX Radio story)

The rooms have been remarkably renovated and include details such as kitchen tables set for a meal, and a card game in progress (love the vintage playing cards!).

There's a card game in progress (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

There’s a card game in progress (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

La Purisima Mission is on State Park grounds, offering many miles of hiking trails along grounds with lots of old oak trees. The summer day I was there seemed much cooler than Santa Barbara temperatures, which have been hotter than average this year.

Admission to La Purisima Mission is free. Parking is $5. You can see the mission in anywhere from one hour – to an entire half of day, longer if you want to explore the hiking trails.

La Purisima Mission State Park

If the recent Canonization of Father Junipero Serra has piqued your interest in California history, you might want to visit some of the Golden State's historic missions. Here are some beautiful shots of La Purisima Mission State Park in Lompoc, CA.

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Traffic411 Insiders Tip: Wine lovers might want to hop over to “The Wine Ghetto,” Lompoc’s growing wine district offers an array of tasting rooms. Non-drinkers might enjoy the Surf-Lompoc Amtrak Station, located along a pristine stretch of Surf Beach (although the beach is closed parts of the year when Snowy Plover are nesting).

Distance from LAX: 150 miles (Distance from Old Mission Santa Barbara: 54 miles)

You can also explore these Central Coast Missions:

Mission San Buenaventura (Ventura)

Old Mission Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara)

Old Mission Santa Ines (Solvang)

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (San Luis Obispo)

Mission San Miguel (San Luis Obispo County)

Mission San Antonio de Padua (Jolon, Monterey County)

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission (Carmel, Monterey County).
Carmel Mission was the first headquarters of the California Mission System and is the final resting place for Father J. Serra

Old Mission San Juan Bautista (San Juan Bautista, near Salinas)

 

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Old Spanish Days Fiesta

Dancing at Santa Barbara's Old  Spanish Days Fiesta (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Dancing at Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Santa Barbarans are spending the week celebrating their beautiful city’s heritage, and you’re invited to attend many of the free events taking place around town.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta runs from August 5-9, 2015. The city comes alive with colorful Spanish dancers, dancing horses, a rodeo, two parades, live music on multiple stages and plenty of pageantry, food and drink.

What could be more breathtaking than a group of Spanish dancers in colorful gowns twirling on stage with Old Mission Santa Barbara or the County Courthouse as their backdrop? While you’re at the Courthouse, take a free tour. The clock tower (offering one of the best city views) recently reopened. Click here for a calendar of Fiesta events.

In this Lisa.FM/Traffic411 podcast, Old Spanish Days historian Erin Graffy explains the history behind this 90+ year city tradition. Her stories of the parade and rodeo will make you want to attend.

Santa Barbara historians Erin Graffy & her brother Neal Graffy offer insider tips for getting the most out of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. Ole! (Photo courtesy of Neal Graffy)

Santa Barbara historians Erin Graffy & her brother Neal Graffy offer insider tips for getting the most out of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. Ole! (Photo courtesy of Neal Graffy)

Plus, Erin’s brother, Santa Barbara historian Neal Graffy will share the history behind Fiesta traditions, such as the big rodeo and confetti eggs.  They’ll also tell you where to find the most authentic Spanish/Mexican food during Fiesta.

Dancers of all ages perform during Old Spanish Days Fiesta (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Dancers of all ages perform during Old Spanish Days Fiesta (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

On Friday, Neal Graffy will provide color commentary during the Historical Parade  (El Desfile Histórico).  If you can’t make it to Santa Barbara to see the parade in person, you can tune-in online. KEYT-3 News will stream the parade live at KEYT.com 

KEYT senior reporter John Palmentari (left) with historian Neal Graffy at Fiesta 2014 (photo courtesy of Neal Graffy)

KEYT senior reporter John Palmentari (left) with historian Neal Graffy at Fiesta 2014 (photo courtesy of Neal Graffy)

¡Viva La Fiesta!

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: Our Lady of Guadalupe (Church) Mercado serves the most authentic Mexican food during Old Spanish Days Fiesta.

Distance from LAX: 95 miles

 

 

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Gaviota Side Trip: Nojoqui Falls Park

The Farm-Stead is a fun side trip off Highway 101 between Santa Barbara & Solvang (photo Traffic411)

The Farm-Stead is a fun side trip off Highway 101 between Santa Barbara & Solvang (photo Traffic411)

Here’s a fun little side trip the next time you drive Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County between the Gaviota Coast and Solvang:  Nojoqui Falls Park & The Farm-Stead.

The Farm-Stead is a cute little store that sells fresh organic produce, and offers the opportunity to pick your own.

Families were gathering raspberries and strawberries in their roadside garden during my recent Sunday visit. I bought some heirloom cantaloupes which were sweet and delicious!  There are goats, mules and pigs in a pen out back, with a bucket of veggies that customers can feed the animals. The Farm-Stead is located along Old Coast Highway Road in Gaviota, although the ocean is nowhere in sight.

The Farm-Stead has goats and pigs out back (photo Traffic411)

The Farm-Stead has goats and pigs out back (photo Traffic411)

Nojoqui Falls Park (pronounced no-HO-wee) is just up the road from The Farm-Stead. Shaded by rustic oaks dripping with moss. There are picnic tables for day visits, so pack a lunch or pick up fresh snacks at The Farm-Stead. It’s typically an easy hike to Nojoqui Falls (although chances are you won’t see much water because of the drought), but the trail was closed on the day I visited (July 2016) because of a mudslide.

The trail to Nojoqui Falls is closed because of a mudslide (photo Traffic411)

The trail to Nojoqui Falls is closed because of a mudslide (photo Traffic411)

These spots are located above the Gaviota tunnel off Highway 101, heading north you’ll make a right just off the highway. You’ll come to the Farm-Stead first, and then make a left on Alisol (easy signage) to get to Nojoqui Park.  This route is also a scenic short cut into Solvang.

Nojoqui Falls sign & street sign Old Coast Highway & Alisal (Photo Traffic411)

Nojoqui Falls sign & street sign Old Coast Highway & Alisal (Photo Traffic411)

Traffic411 Insider Tip: There’s a free electric vehicle (EV) charging station outside the Farm-Stead. Pick some berries while you’re charging your EV battery!

Distance from LAX: 139 miles

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Visit Santa Barbara: Refugio State Beach reopens

Refugio State Beach, damaged by an oil spill, is known for its beautiful clear waters and diverse sea life. (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Refugio State Beach, damaged by an oil spill, is known for its beautiful clear waters and diverse sea life. (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

The last remaining State Beach closed since a pipeline ruptured in May, sending 100,000+ gallons of oil gushing onto the shore and into the ocean, is now open.  While campers and beach goers are allowed to return, news of the spill has caused a lot of would-be visitors to Santa Barbara to change their travel plans.

Refugio State Beach is located along the Gaviota Coast, a pristine stretch of coastline known for its clean waters and diverse sea life. The spill site is several miles west (north) of the city of Santa Barbara. Still, as soon as news of the spill splashed across newspaper & website headlines, the city’s billion-dollar a year tourism industry took a hit.

Tajiguas Beach, looking toward Refugio State Beach, pre-spill.  Located along the Gaviota Coast, near Santa Barbara, it's known as the "Galapagos of the North." (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Tajiguas Beach, looking toward Refugio State Beach, pre-spill. Located along the Gaviota Coast, near Santa Barbara, it’s known as the “Galapagos of the North.” (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

It’s not just the sea sport industries such as kayak and stand up paddle board operators who have noticed a drop off in customers. One winemaker with a tasting room downtown said business remained down by 50% two months after the spill.

Also read:  Gaviota Coast, Santa Barbara

Every year, Santa Barbara attracts visitors from around the world. Tourism is the city’s biggest industry. So, let’s let everyone know that Santa Barbara is as beautiful as ever – there’s no need to cancel or change plans to visit.

Tajiguas Beach was among the beaches along the Gaviota Coast impacted by a 100,000+ gallon oil spill in May 2015 (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Tajiguas Beach was among the beaches along the Gaviota Coast impacted by a 100,000+ gallon oil spill in May 2015 (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

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SB Solstice Floats Before & After

Santa Barbara's Community Arts Workshop, ground zero of Solstice float creation (Photo Traffic411)

Santa Barbara’s Community Arts Workshop, ground zero of Solstice float creation (Photo Traffic411)

It was so much fun visiting the Community Arts Workshop (the “CAW”) to watch Santa Barbara Solstice Parade artists and float builders at work.  What a difference a few days made as far as the process of their creations.  I know at least one artist stayed up all night in order to have his float ready for Saturday.

Here are a few of the 2015 entries – in process and then ‘ready for their close ups’ — in Santa Barbara’s 2015 Summer Solstice Parade.

“The Cloud”

Santa Barbara native John Sinclair has been participating in Solstice for years. Now living on the east coast, he was able to come back to town to create his float “The Cloud.”

John Sinclair's "The Cloud" Solstice entry three days before the parade (Photo Traffic411)

John Sinclair’s “The Cloud” Solstice entry three days before the parade (Photo Traffic411)

“We’re not necessarily trying to be a cloud in the sky, but ‘the Cloud…’  Science fiction is the theme this year, so I thought what is more science fiction than the idea that someday we will all just be part of the Cloud, not human entities anymore.”

'Cloudies' prepping ahead of the Solstice Parade. (Photo Ken Pfeiffer)

‘Cloudies’ prepping ahead of the Solstice Parade. (Photo Ken Pfeiffer)

Artist John Sinclair evangelizing to parade watchers that one day we would all be 'in the cloud.' (Photo Traffic411)

Artist John Sinclair evangelizing to parade watchers that one day we would all be ‘in the cloud.’ (Photo Traffic411)

John invited my friend Ken Pfeiffer and me to be in the parade, along with his family including his mom, Sarah. His grandmother, Sally Graham, waved to parade watchers from the top of the Cloud float.

"The Cloud" makes its way down State Street in the 2015 Santa Barbara Solstice Parade. That's me in the white lab coat arm raised (Photo Robert Bernstein)

“The Cloud” makes its way down State Street in the 2015 Santa Barbara Solstice Parade. That’s me in the white lab coat arm raised (Photo Robert Bernstein)

“Time Travel Trike”

Artist Geoffrey Barber gave a nod to Sci Fi author H.G. Wells with his time machine creation.

Artist Geoffrey Barber on his "Time Trike" SB Solstice Parade 2015 (Photo by Robert Bernstein)

Artist Geoffrey Barber on his “Time Trike” SB Solstice Parade 2015 (Photo by Robert Bernstein)

“It’s actually a Time Trike,” he said. Barber says some of his favorite parts of Solstice are the parties and the ‘push back.’ “The push back is at the end of the parade when we’re getting all the floats back…because it means you’ve done your job!”

This is the "Time Machine Trike" in progress (Photo Traffic411)

This is the “Time Machine Trike” in progress (Photo Traffic411)

Solstice artist Geoffrey Barber on his 'Time Machine Trike' meets up with a scary looking friend along the parade route (Photo by Robert Bernstein)

Solstice artist Geoffrey Barber on his ‘Time Machine Trike’ meets up with a scary looking friend along the parade route (Photo by Robert Bernstein)

 

Read more:  Building Santa Barbara’s Solstice Parade

“Solar Flying Saucer”

Aliens peek out of the window of their foil-wrapped saucer, as dancers of all ages move along State Street.

aliens peek out a window of their space craftr

“Sci Fi” is the theme for this year’s Santa Barbara Solstice Parade (photo Lisa Osborn)

Flying saucer dancers warming up for Solstice Parade (Photo Traffic411)

Flying saucer dancers warming up for Solstice Parade (Photo Traffic411)

 

Thanks to photographer Robert Bernstein for sharing his photos. You can see more of his SB Solstice Parade photos here.

SB photographer Robert Bernstein (right) with friends at the 2015 Solstice Parade. (Photo Robert Bernstein)

SB photographer Robert Bernstein (right) with friends at the 2015 Solstice Parade. (Photo Robert Bernstein)

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Sound like a Santa Barbara Local

Just about any newcomer to California will tell you that it’s not always easy pronouncing the names of some of our streets and cities. Many of the names are inspired by early Spanish or Mexican settlers, which probably sound quite foreign to out of state visitors and newly-relocated transplants.

I’ve lived in the Golden State all of my life and, as a former traffic reporter, it was my job to know how to pronounce the names of every freeway ramp in Southern California. But, when I first arrived in Santa Barbara there were streets I wasn’t sure about.

Santa Barbara historian Neal Graffy, author of “Street Names of Santa Barbara,” says the town council wanted to honor Santa Barbara’s earliest settlers and founding families by naming city streets after them. From Anapamu to Quinientos – Graffy offers this brief audio primer on how to sound like a local.

Graffy told me the hardest names in downtown Santa Barbara to pronounce are Micheltorena and Quinientos. For me, Anapamu and Arrellaga looked just as tricky. Have you come across any streets that left you scratching your head?

When 100,000+ gallons of crude oil spilled off the Gaviota coast in May of 2015, one of my Los Angeles traffic reporter friends asked me how to say “Refugio” like a local. I told her it was pronounced “Ruh-foo-GEE-oh” (with a hard G, like ‘get’). Later,  I learned the “G” was spoken as an ‘F’ in the original Spanish pronunciation, making it “Ruh-foo-FEE-oh.”  For details on the proper Refugio pronunciation, check out this EdHat discussion.

While you’re figuring out the street names – you’ll want to become acquainted with three street names that sound similar – but lead to different places: Cabrillo, Carrillo and Castillo! 🙂 Happy Pronouncing!

streetnamesofsb_cropYou can read about the stories behind the street names of Santa Barbara in Graffy’s book “Street Names of Santa Barbara.” 

 

 

 

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