Pursuit of happiness on the Fourth of July

July 12, 2012 

The North Coast was bustling with visitors and busy residents during the week-plus period wrapped around the July 4th holiday, which fell this year on a Wednesday.

“I haven’t seen that many people on the streets in a couple of years,” said Mary Ann Carson, executive director of the Cambria Chamber of Commerce.

At Shamel Park, where American Legion Post No. 432 sponsored annual festivities all day, traditional activities reigned supreme, including fireworks, kids’ games, waiter-waitress races and pie-eating contests.

Daytime weather was pleasant and the fog held off until after the pyrotechnics, which star ted at 9 p.m. and lasted about a half hour.

Officials estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 people were there for the daylong events — not including a pelican that landed in the park pool.

The American Legion Post said of a total of 5,255 raffle tickets sold in a drawing for an iPad and other prizes, 1,910 tickets, or about 36 percent, were sold to people from out of town.

The San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill team repeated the restaurant’s previous wins in the waiter-waitress race.

Tony Short won the men’s category of the third annual Linn’s pie-eating contest, with a record time of 7 minutes to consume the 56-ounce apple-olallieberry pie, organizers said. Details on the other winners were not available at press deadline.

Business update

Attendance at Hearst Castle was up about a half percent over last year’s holiday period, “which is still a lot of people,” according to John Fixler, ticket office supervisor.

“It’s been a romp of summer here so far,” Fixler said July 10. “Last week was like a tidal wave.” He said on the holiday period’s busiest day, Saturday, July 7, 3,877 people toured the popular state park.

But more feet on the pavement and cars in parking lots don’t always translate into dollars in the till, and sales reports vary from one business to another. While some Realtors and restaurants reported booming trade, others said the middle-of-the-week holiday was business as usual.

Realtor Becky Adams wrote in a July 9 email, “The 4th was fantastic,” with both weekends being busy. “I had six offers in the space of 48 hours, between Thursday and Friday. It was crazy!”

And although Manta Rey Restaurant in San Simeon was closed on July 4, according to owner Miguel de Alba, the weekends before and after were busy. “It seems like it will be a good summer,” he said. “It’s picked up quite a bit from last year.”

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