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Stearns Wharf fans mark its 150th anniversary with music and more

Stearns Wharf celebrations in Santa Barbara mark its 150th anniversary

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-Wharf Wednesdays Concerts are part of the 150th anniversary celebration for Stearns Wharf.

A band called Down Mountain Lights played for people dancing and listening near the Sea Center on Wednesday evening.

Nearby people fished for their supper or just for fun.

Fisherman and Santa Barbara resident Paul Reynolds said, "Stearns is an institution."

Santa Barbara historian Neal Graffy would agree.

"One thing that hasn't changed with 150 years is all it takes is a line, a hook, and time to sit for fish to bate," said Graffy.

It is named after John Peck Stearns. A plaque on the pier explains Stearns borrowed funds from W.W. Hollister to build what became the longest deep water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"And in two months, they were finished and on Sept 16, 1872 the first ship tied up and unloaded several hundred thousand feet of lumber, that's how much that was coming in on ships," said Graffy.

Waterfront Public Information officer Chris Bell said,"The wharf has gone through these eras, right, I kind of think of it like The Giving Tree where it has provided the community what is has needed in those different times."

It has withstood numerous storms and flames. 

A fire on a wharf on a Wednesday night in mid November 1998 burned Moby Dick Restaurant and the Santa Barbara Seafood Company.

Rosie Puff said, "I was close enough to see flames it was a huge fire."

Fire also damaged the Harbor Restaurant in 1973 and the Sea Center in 1986.

Repairs took time.

In the 1980s and '90s the soap opera Santa Barbara shot scenes on the wharf.

Location Manager Sawly Christensen remembers it well. She said that's not old.

"I come from England, as you can tell, 150 isn't a very long in time in our nation, but it is for here, and I love this wharf," said Christensen.

A big birthday bash takes place on Saturday and will include a visit from the tall ship Mystic Whaler that will sail up from the Channel Islands Harbor.

There will also be a scavenger hunt, face painting and chowder tasting.

Opera Santa Barbara will play crowd favorites in the late morning and the bands Tequila Mockingbird and Double Wide Kinds will play in the afternoon.

The Yacht Club Parade of Fleet will give people plenty to watch from the wharf.

There will be a Celebratory Convocation in the evening followed by fireworks.

For times and information visit

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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