This past Sunday, the local Begonia Festival Parade celebrated it's 60th Anniversary. Around the turn on the century, the Brown family moved to the sparsely populated coastal area then known as "Camp Capitola" and set about making an agriculture business. They hybridized the Pacific Begonia, and for several decades the Brown Bulb Ranch supplied ninety percent of the world with begonia bulbs. At first I was a little shocked by how many flowers are used each year, but then I learned that begonias are not cut flowers. The flowers' presence signal that the tubers are ready to be dug up and propagated; begonia farmers are not very concerned with the above-ground product.
In the early fifties, a local Capitola swim teacher took note of how many pretty flowers the Brown Bulb Ranch "wasted" each year. Soon after, the first swimmers paddled down the Soquel Creek to the ocean on boards decorated with the brilliant, broad-petaled flowers. A few years later, the first floats appeared and a local tradition was born. This year, the steamboat float was my absolute favorite.The band playing on one was very impressive, too; I don't know if I could groove while worrying about electrocution!
The ice-cream colored buildings in the background actually make up the Venetian Hotel, which is where we spent Christmas Day with Eric's family. The fog started rolling in from the ocean around three o'clock (I was glad for a jacket) and tourists started to move en masse off the beach, but not before the horseshoe throwing contest reached it's climactic end. Above average waves the day before had a disastrous encounter with the Sandcastle Contest, but Sunday went off without a hitch.
We stopped by the candy shop for reinforcements before heading home. There are new (to me, at least) Jelly Belly flavors! My old favorites include pink grapefruit, kiwi and juicy pear, but now I'm equally enamored of the ice cream mix they made with Coldstone. I can't decide whether I truly like the chili mango.. And I've got to go back and try the cupcake taffy. What are your favorite jelly belly flavors?