CAPITOLA — The final Capitola Begonia Festival wrapped up Monday with the traditional Fishing Derby on the Capitola Wharf. The event, which peaks with the Nautical Parade on Sunday, has been a huge draw for crowds of all ages for the last 65 years.
“I guess I have to say I am really relieved,” said festival staff member Thea Luiten. “There is so much work that goes into this. We’ve had some great years and now things change.”
This year 12 begonia floats entered the Nautical Parade. The Riverview Rascals claimed first place with their float entry, “Now Departing Begonia Flight #65.”
Coming in second was Casa Finkel and third place was Team Tola.
In the sand sculpture competition the grand prizewinner was “Begonias Off to Neverland” by Jolie Downs.
Mike Termini, vice mayor of Capitola, described the event on Sunday as “tremendous.”
“I don’t think we’ve ever had more people,” he said “It was a record year for attendance and it felt good. I’m getting reports that there were as many as 15,000 people and there were no calls for emergency service. This town is magic sometimes; people come here to have a good time, it’s that simple.”
Though the Begonia Festival has officially wrapped up, Termini said talks are underway for salvaging some of the events annually like the sand castle building contest, the fishing derby, the row boat races and horseshoe throwing competitions.
“These are popular events and, as you tell by the turnout, people enjoy coming to the village to have a good, safe time,” Termini said.