Santa Cruz Connected: 2015 Year In Review

Santa Cruz 2015 year in review

There was a lot that happened in Santa Cruz in 2015 and summing it all up is no easy task. As with any article looking back on an entire year, it’s impossible to include everything that warrants mentioning. We experienced highs and lows as a community; some offering a rosy glimpse into the future, while other moments left us searching for answers amid tragedy.

We saw some anniversaries of local importance, with UCSC celebrating 50 years, as well as the 50 year anniversary of the Merry Pranksters first acid tests in Soquel.

Santa Cruz got its first D-league basketball championship as well as its first UFC champion in 2015. Pop-up dining hit its stride and we experienced a mini-explosion on the local craft beer scene. An ancient fossil was discovered in Scotts Valley, plans for high-speed internet were unveiled, and a film from Santa Cruz’s past was rediscovered and restored.

All that, plus the best social media pictures and videos from 2015 in this edition of Santa Cruz Connected.

January: Arana Gulch Trail Completed

The Arana Gulch mixed use trail was completed in January, offering bikers and pedestrians a picturesque path without cars between Frederick St. and 7th Ave. The trail also has access to Soquel Ave. and the path through the yacht harbor can be taken all the way to the Walton Lighthouse. You can read more about the trail in this article and the video below gives a cyclist’s view of the trail from Frederick St. to Brommer St.

View the Arana Gulch Trail from the perspective of a bicyclist in the video above.

Social Media Pick of the Month: Matt Rockhold Strikes Gold

Santa Cruz surfer Matt Rockhold floats above the crest of a wave. His brother, Luke, would go on to win the UFC middleweight title in December (see below).

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for January 2015.

February: Saying Goodbye To The Post Office Jumps

In February of 2015, the Aptos Post Office Jumps closed as the owner of the property, Barry Swenson Builder, embarked on a new construction project at the site of the popular dirt jumps and pump track. Prior to being developed, the land was being rented to the County Parks Department for next to nothing. There is currently a relocation project underway for the Post Office Jumps, which you can read more about here. The video below is from the website for the relocation project.

In spite of the morbid title, this video takes a nostalgic look back at the Post Office Jumps.

Social Media Pick of the Month: Evening View of the Boardwalk From Above

One of the many amazing aerial videos of Santa Cruz that Archer Koch produced in 2015.

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for February 2015. 

March: Fire Burns Boulder Creek Brewery To Ground

Boulder Creek Brewery & Cafe burned to the ground in March of 2015, taking with it a beloved local business and watering hole. The fire destroyed the entire building and virtually everything inside, leaving the business owners to contemplate the future of the brewery, which has been in operation since 1989.

The brewery had to forfeit all of its alcohol licenses following the fire, but were granted a temporary license approval by the State of California in May according to a Facebook post. They have since been holding events and operating with abbreviated hours as “brewery outpost” at 1301 Highway 9, a location that was formerly home to a music store. The best place to find information and updates about the brewery is on their Facebook page. A kickstarter campaign that was started to raise money for rebuilding efforts has been put on hold as the owners evaluate the feasibility of rebuilding at the former location.

One of the first peeks at the Brewery Outpost.

Social Media Pick of the Month: Capitola’s Spooky Beauty on Friday the 13th

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for March 2015.

April: SC Warriors Win It All, Bryan Stow Recovery

It was a good year for the Golden State Warriors organization and we enjoyed our share of celebration from their success in 2015. As a prelude to the Warriors run to the NBA championship, the Santa Cruz Warriors brought home the championship for the NBA’s developmental league (D-league) in April. Perhaps as a nod to the success and support of the team, the 2016 D-league showcase will be hosted at Kaiser Permanente Arena Jan. 6-10. (Click here for schedule.)

Bryan Stow, the Santa Cruz EMT that was brutally assaulted at a baseball game between the L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, made his first public appearance since the incident in April. He threw out the first pitch for the San Jose Giants, the minor league affiliate for the major league team, to a loud ovation in an emotionally charged moment. (Click here to watch the video.) The family has since set up an anti-bullying foundation in Bryan’s name to educate children about violence prevention.

Social Media Pick of the Month: A Look Back at Pacific Ave.

Today, you would find Bookshop Santa Cruz and Zoccoli’s Delicatessen along this stretch of Pacific Ave.

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for April 2015.

May: The Loss Of A Local Surfing Legend

May saw the passing of beloved local surfer Shawn “Barney” Barron, who had made his name as a big wave surfer. Barron attended Santa Cruz High School and was part of the growing local surf scene of the 90’s, including the group that was featured in the 2010 documentary, “The Westsiders.”

In addition to his prowess in the water, Barron was known as a fun-loving character involved with charity organizations like Operation Surf and the Mauli Ola Foundation. You can read more about his life and influence in this article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Social Media Pick of the Month: Modern Day Pacific Ave.

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Late night Pacific Ave #SantaCruz

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In this artsy shot, we get a modern glimpse of the same stretch of Pacific Avenue from the black and white photo above.

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for May 2015.

June: Original Surfboards Return, Gigabit On the Way

The first time anyone surfed a wave on the mainland, it was in Santa Cruz in 1885. Three Hawaiian princes traveled to the area and surfed waves on 18-foot-long boards fashioned from redwood trees and weighing between 150 and 175 pounds. After their discovery, the original surfboards were returned to Santa Cruz, where they were on display at the Museum of Art and History from July through October. You can read more about the story in this article from the Good Times.

Local internet service provider Cruzio announced plans in June for a partnership that would bring high-speed gigabit fiber to internet users in the city. The service, which is expected to deliver speeds and pricing that rival Google Fiber in other cities, will be rolled out gradually over several years.

The projected completion date for the project is three years, at which point customers will enjoy dramatically faster internet service. Cruzio is seeking customer feedback, which you can submit here, and you can learn more about the project in this article from Santa Cruz Tech Beat.

Social Media Pick of the Month: Woodies on the Wharf

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for June 2015.

July: Santa Cruz Grapples With Tragedy

There were few stories in 2015 that gripped the city like the tragic murder of 8-year-old Madyson Jordan Middleton. A resident of the Tannery Arts Center, Madyson was reported missing and everyone from local residents to the FBI were called upon to help in the search. After search efforts were frantically ramped up, Madyson’s body was discovered at the Tannery, casting a sadness over the town still lingers.

Candlelight vigils were held for Madyson at the Clock Tower downtown, as well as West Cliff Dr. A “Howl For Maddy” event was held in her honor in which residents howled at the moon as a nod to the young child’s love of wolves.

Social Media Pick of the Month: Golden Glass

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for July 2015.

August: Profiling A Local Surfing Icon

Local surf icon and wetsuit pioneer Jack O’Neill was featured in a story in SF Gate that explored the development of the wetsuit and the subsequent popularity of the O’Neill brand. The article chronicles O’Neill’s early days as a San Francisco surfer to his move to Santa Cruz and eventual path to successful surfing entrepreneur.

The article concludes with five local places to visit if you’d like to learn more about O’Neill’s role in Santa Cruz surf lore: the original O’Neill surf shop, the Jack O’Neill Lounge at the Dream Inn, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, O’Neill Yacht Charters, and the O’Neill Surf Shop on 41st Ave.

Social Media Pick(s) of the Month: Meteor Showers and Lightning Strikes

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for August 2015.

September: The Boardwalk, A Whale Of A Good Time

Mobile Ranger published a great piece about the history of the Boardwalk, detailing its early development as a tourist destination and local hot spot. In addition to reviewing the history of the Boardwalk itself, the article also tackles several of the notable areas near the Boardwalk, like the Lost Boys bridge and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.

A whale fossil that’s more than a million years old was uncovered at a construction site in Scotts Valley in September. According to an article in the Sentinel, this particular fossil is somewhat rare because of how well it has been preserved. As to how it made its way to Santa’s Village, scientists attribute that to fault lines and the shifting of tectonic plates over the years.

Social Media Pick of the Month: Humpback Whale At Mitchell’s Cove

Video by Youtube user milmascaras66

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for September 2015.

October: Restoring A Relic Of The Past

A film that was shot in Santa Cruz in 1917, which was previously thought to be lost, was rediscovered in October by Santa Cruz native James Mockoski. The film, titled “Mothers of Men,” was made in support of the women’s suffrage movement and includes many scenes of the Santa Cruz coast and downtown. According to IMDB, the movie was re-released in 1921 under the title “Every Woman’s Problem.”

The film is being restored in hopes of presenting it at the San Francisco Film Festival, either in 2016 or 2017. After the festival, the film will be returned to Santa Cruz for local screenings. You can read more about the film in this article and donate to the restoration by clicking here.

Social Media Pick(s) of the Month: Peace Now & In the Future

A view that never gets old.

Great Scott! Santa Cruz celebrates Back to the Future day.

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for October 2015.

November: Merry Pranksters & Acid Tests

Ken Kesey’s counterculture group of LSD-taking pranksters had their first “acid test” in Soquel in 1965; a historical note that got plenty of attention during the 50th anniversary of the event.

Local historian Geoffrey Dunn authored a great article about the first acid test, and the Rolling Stone also did a retrospective article on the topic. According to the article in Rolling Stone, there are plans to commemorate the first acid test with a museum near the original site of the tests.

Social Media Pick(s) of the Month: Perfect Sunsets, Lightning Strikes Twice

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Great sunset last night.

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Perhaps the most Santa Cruz picture of the year.

Lightning struck (twice) near Olitas on the wharf.

Click here to read the full Santa Cruz Connected article for November 2015.

December: Santa Cruz Gets A UFC Title

If you haven’t heard yet, Santa Cruz is home to one of the best martial artists in the world in Luke Rockhold. He solidified that claim in December by decisively taking the UFC middleweight title from previously undefeated opponent Chris Weidman.

While Rockhold has long been considered a great fighter in the sport, his most recent win catapulted him to a level where his talent is inarguable. As of this writing, Rockhold is ranked the number one middleweight (185 pounds) in the UFC and the number four pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world. You can read more about Rockhold in this article from the Good Times.

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And the new

A post shared by Luke Rockhold (@lukerockhold) on

Overcome with emotion, Luke Rockhold falls to the canvas after stopping his opponent in the fourth round.

Social Media Pick(s) of the Month: Lighted Boat Parade

Aerial view of the lighted boat parade at the Santa Cruz Harbor.

After writing about Santa Cruz for the past year, I’ve realized how many truly amazing photographers we have here. Sadly, local photographer Vaughn Visnius passed away unexpectedly in December. This was one of my favorite shots of his and one of the last photos he posted. You can donate to his memorial fund here.


About Joshua Vincent

Joshua Vincent is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for 12 years. Follow his tweets at @VincentChirps.

  • Teri says:

    Beautiful job putting this piece together! Thoroughly enjoyed all of it!!
    Thanks for giving me chills as I focused on the beautiful places I call home.
    Well done!!

    • Joshua Vincent says:

      Thank you, Teri!

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