Cambria packed for 4-day Fourth

Long weekend drew crowds to Shamel Park, Hearst Castle, elephant seal viewing area

ktanner@thetribunenews.comJuly 11, 2013 

The North Coast was packed with people ready to party on the extended Independence Day holiday weekend, and that’s just what they did, according to those who helped organize Cambria’s annual celebration on Thursday, July 4.

Visitation appeared to be up everywhere, perhaps due in part to cancellation of some other fireworks events and long spells of hot weather elsewhere.

“It was fabulous,” said Mary Ann Carson, executive director of the Cambria Chamber of Commerce. “People obviously were staying, eating and shopping.”

Compared to recent Independence Days at Shamel Park, turnout this year was “up sharply” at the all-day, family friendly, fun-game-and-fireworks happenings, according to officials of the sponsoring American Legion Post No. 432.

And attendance at Hearst Castle for the week of June 30 through July 7 (25,591) was up by more than 7 percent when compared with the same week in 2012 (23,770).

The elephant seal viewing site at Piedras Blancas, too, was overflowing with visitors during the four-day holiday weekend.

Joan Crowder, a Friends of the Elephant Seal docent, said that, for July 4 through July 7, docents talked with 4,423 people in the rookery overlook area. Most of the seals currently are on the beach at the north end of the parking lot, she said, so the crowd collected at that end.

Docents use pocket clickers to tally how many people they speak with during their shifts (hundreds of other visitors each day don’t make contact). According to Friends’ data, on a non-holiday, four-day period including a weekend in the summer, docents average about 1,000 contacts.

Downtown Cambria was bustling throughout the four-day holiday period, with shops and restaurants busy, no-vacancy signs up at motels, streets packed with traffic and parking spaces at a premium.People held block parties in several areas so they could share the holiday with their neighbors.

But the biggest crush was at the park on the Fourth. “We had lots of people from nearby communities, as well as Los Angeles and the Central Valley,” said Post Commander Brian Griffin, who thanked Supervisor Bruce Gibson and the many businesses, service organizations and individuals that contributed to the Shamel Park celebration and the $11,000 cost of the fireworks.

He and post Finance Officer Ron Waltman attributed part of the attendance increase to cancellations of fireworks events in Paso Robles and Avila Beach.

The team from San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill continued its domination of the annual Great Waiter and Waitress Tray Balancing Relay Race. Linn’s restaurant’s team finished second, followed by the Sea Chest Oyster Bar’s competitors.

Gustavo Beltran, spokesman for the winning team, said the race went exactly as rehearsed. “In San Simeon, we never spill the beans on anybody,” he quipped. “The same goes for water in the glasses” during the race.

Winners in the Linn’s pie-eating contest were: Large pie, men’s group, repeat champ Bill Lacy (with a time of 5 minutes, 10 seconds); Renee Williams for the women’s medium-sized pies (1:10), who had won twice before; and in the kid’s small-pie division, Christopher Chaffin (2:15).

Others who placed were: Men, second, two-time previous champion Tony Jones (7:54); and third, Nickolas Kane (7:57); women, second, Sabrina Dunn (1:10); and third, Miranda Hill (1:29); kids, second, Riley Jones (2:45); and third, Jackie Happel (2:55).

Among notable pie-munching contestants were two Miss Caifornia Mid-State Fair candidates: Sabrina Dunn of Templeton (who took second place in the pie race) and Cambria’s own Elida Moore. Sea-otter trackers Gena Bentall, Sarah Chinn, Sarah Espinosa and Katie Blacketor, all of Cambria, also participated.

Keep fireworks firing

Contributions this year help assure that Cambria will have a Fourth of July fireworks show next year. Send donations to American Legion Post No. 432, P.O. Box 697, Cambria CA 93428. Make checks out to the Legion and write “fireworks” on the memo line.

Follow Kathe Tanner on Twitter at @CambriaReporter.

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