Santa Cruz County packs a lot into its 607 square miles: history, culture, entertainment, natural beauty, community and great food, just to name a few. In fact, the county is so rich with stories that no one can know them all, not even those who have lived in the county their entire lives. So, here are a few interesting facts that many of you may not know about Santa Cruz County.
1. THE MEAT DRESS - Santa Cruzans may have bore witness to the first meat dress, long before Lady Gaga. As a means of protest, former model Ann Simonton donned dresses made from hot dogs, steak, and lunch meats in “counter-pageants” staged outside the Miss California event held annually in Santa Cruz. Simonton is just one of many historical figures featured at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. The museum’s wonderfully immersive history gallery details local history—from the Mission Era to the present—as well as the captivating people who helped shape it.
2. TOURISM - Tourism is a $700 million industry in Santa Cruz County and generates $14.5 million in local taxes. (based upon 2000 figures). The average length of stay is 2.86 nights.
3. CAMERA PHONE - The original camera phone was invented by local resident, Phillippe Kahn, in 1997. The impetus for this invention was the birth of Kahn's daughter; he jury-rigged a connection between a mobile phone and a digital camera and sent off photos in real time. In 2016 Time Magazine included Kahn's first camera phone photo in their list of the 100 most influential photos of all time.
4. ITS OLD - Santa Cruz County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. In the original act, the county was given the name of "Branciforte" after the Spanish pueblo founded there in 1797. Today it is the second smallest county in California by land (27% of the county is water).
5. EGG VENDING MACHINE - Sure, you could go and buy your eggs at the grocery store like everyone else. Or, you could go and get yourself 18 cage-free eggs from the vending machine at Glaum’s Egg Ranch in Aptos, a farm that features dancing animatronic chickens. Yep, dancing chickens. Insert four dollars and out comes a tray of 18 fresh eggs while a chorus of animatronic chickens in seasonal attire sing and dance for you. The costumes change, but no matter the holiday, their song remains the same: a clucking version of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood,” by Henhouse Five Plus Too (Ray Stevens).
6. BOARDWALK - The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the only major seaside amusement park remaining on the West Coast of the United States. It's also the oldest amusement park in California. The Boardwalk is located along a scenic mile-long public beach on Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Boardwalk features more than 40 rides and attractions; 26 midway games, 2 large video game arcades; an 18-hole indoor mini-golf course; a laser tag arena; 31 restaurant and food outlets; 8 beachwear, gift, and specialty shops; and a family bowling center.
7. SHORT & SWEET - Billed as “The World’s Shortest Parade” at just two city blocks, Aptos’ 4th of July Parade has enough pageantry to last two hours on July 4, 2018. Last year, the 0.6 mile parade meant the city of Aptos (a town just east of Santa Cruz along the Pacific) celebrated the 4th of July in mini-grand ole style.