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Four Million Visitors Can't Be Wrong: Lighthouse Field is the shiznit!


It's Lonely at The Top

Was Nüz the only one who noticed that Santa Cruz's Lighthouse Field placed an amazing No. 7 on the most recent list of California's Top 10 tourist attractions?

Published in the San Jose Merc, the list claimed the field gets 4 million visitors a year, beating out Knott's Berry Farm, which took eighth place.

Curious to see whether Lighthouse Field is really hosting over 10,000 tourists a day, Nüz visited it on Memorial Day. What we found is as follows:

12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers toking, 10 boards-a-surfing, nine dogs-a-barking, eight porta-potties, seven seals-a-swimming, six geeks Frisbee-playing, five buffalo wings, four surfing boards, three henchmen, two kids making love, and a crazy guy up a bare tree.

Confused, Nüz called the city' s Parks and Recreation Department and discovered that for counting purposes "Lighthouse Field" includes Lighthouse Point, site of the Surfing Museum, and Steamer Lane, plus part of West Cliff Drive.

Noting that the numbers seemed on the "higher" side, P&R staffer Susan Harris said she wasn't sure how the figures were calculated.

"In the past, informal counts at peak season were extrapolated, and the figures may have included local residents and visitors passing to and fro, as well as people driving by," Harris said.

Meanwhile, the Seaside Company's John Robinson wasn't pleased that the Boardwalk has apparently been demoted to the city's No. 2 draw.

"We estimate about 2.5 to 3 million people visit the Boardwalk and the Main Beach each year, and by Knight Ridder's own estimates [Knight Ridder owns the Merc], we're the number six attraction in the state, so we don't know what gives," Robinson said.

Nor do we, John, but we do know that if they would just start counting the Monarch butterflies as visitors, Lighthouse Field could even knock Sea World and its 4.1 million visitors out of sixth place. Hell, if we count them as a new visitor every time they flit around "to and fro," our big, empty field--nay, our newest monster tourist attraction--could easily unseat the current No. 1, Golden Gate Bridge, which clocked in with 13 million visitors. We're talking upset, baby!

No Picnic

First, it was former mayor Mike Rotkin in the Senile every other day, the minute he said he was running for City Council. Then it was current mayor Chris Krohn's turn to get front page billing. Only, unlike Rotkin, Krohn got a distinctly bumpy ride.

First, his complaints about highway widening were followed by a major butt-whipping from county supes, who rejected his proposals as old hat. Then it was Krohn's infamous comment about making Pacific Avenue "a place for everybody," this time trotted out in an article seeking to prove downtown is dangerous and--gasp!--leaderless.

As one anonymous reader, who wrote in to share a chuckle over Nüz's Rotkin Watch, observed: "The election is in full swing. Duh mayor seems desperate. The Sentinel confused. What's not to like about local politics in Santa Cruz?"

Quite a lot, apparently. As Krohn told Nüz, it's no picnic being on the City Council.

"The job takes a heavy toll on your financial and family life. It's really a 30-40-hour-a-week job. Don't kid yourself into thinking it's a half-time job as stated in the election materials. And not paying a real salary limits the pool of candidates. I'm still trying to sort it out with my family," said Krohn, who is considering running again this fall and has two kids, plus a working wife. And did we mention the nanny?

"Do we want to have a system where councilmembers can't have kids?" Krohn asked. "People shouldn't be doing this for the financial recognition, but it would be nice if they had to worry less about financial pressure."

Currently the mayor makes $2,000 a month, while councilmembers get $1,000 apiece.

Finances don't seem to be the problem for Karen Christopherson, one of the most zealous critics of the proposed Doug Rand Memorial Peace Park and a rumored contender for City Council.

The 34-year-old hairdresser confirms that people have been asking her to consider running, but she is undecided.

"Overall, I want to do what's best for the city, and if it looks like we have some very strong candidates that I feel are really gonna benefit us, I would stand back and let them run," she said. "If not, I'd seriously consider running."

Christopherson wasn't prepared to discuss her potential platform, other than that the budget is a major issue and "making the city a little easier is what everybody wants."

Meanwhile, she continues to organize against the Peace Park, most recently trying to determine from whence the city-appointed Peace Park Committee has requested contributions of war artifacts.

"We are desperately trying to get a list of places that they are soliciting rubble from, but we are getting the runaround," said Christopherson, who claims the committee misrepresented the project and went through improper channels. So far her efforts have been fruitless, since the city claims to have kept no such records.

Peace Park Committee head Mathilde Rand says she followed the city's direction. While she waits for them to move forward with the project, she is traveling to the Netherlands--to gather debris for the wall, of course.

Cozy Soaps

Local resident and actor Ralph Peduto wants to set the record straight about soaps.

"We've got this thing that the world of soaps is a seamy hotbed with people jumping in and out of bed, right?"

Well, actually, yes, Ralph, we were hoping.

"But really they aren't seamy--they're cozy," says Peduto, who debuts in ABC's General Hospital Monday, June 10.

"To an actor, a soap's a place to work and live like a human being. Actors are always living in a world of angst, wondering what's coming next, whereas in soap all that's gone. I met one actor on the set who's worked there 14 years. The show is 39 years old," says Peduto, who appears in episode number 10,038, as a super in a rundown New York apartment house, renting out a room to GH's Courtney.

"I gave her a hard time, saying, 'Sure you can rent, but don't expect anything to get fixed.' People were asking if somebody could translate what I was saying, because I put on my mythic New York accent."

According to GH's casting director Gwen Hillier, there's no telling where Ralph's character will wind up, maybe as somebody's dad, uncle or long-lost relative. Says Peduto with a nudge and a wink, "Want to see my character more? Call GH at 323.671.4583. or email [email protected]"

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From the June 5-12, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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