Morro Bay Life • January 2023

Page 1

******ECRWSSEDDM****** POSTAL CUSTOMER MORRO BAY, CA 93442 PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 19 PASO ROBLES, CA INSIDE THIS ISSUE: JANUARY 2023 • MORROBAYLIFENEWS.COM Serving the Communities of Morro Bay and Cayucos MBPD COMMANDER NAMED INTERIM CHIEF | PAGE 5 CITY COUNCIL NEW COUNCIL SWEARS IN | PAGE 4 CHICKEN SOUP FOR A HEALTHY NEW YEAR | PAGE 6 Happy New Year! WASH AWAY THE OLD, RING IN THE NEW CAYUCOS POLAR BEAR DIP PAGE 7

Happy New Year!

As we head into a new year, it’s a good time to reflect on all that we have accomplished and to look forward to the possibilities of the year ahead. It is a time to set new goals, make new plans, and start fresh.

This year, moreover, in the last three years, we have all been through a lot. We have faced challenges and hardships and had to adapt to a new way of living. But through it all, we have persevered and shown our resilience.

As we embark on this new journey, it is important to remember that we are not alone. We are part of a larger community, a global family, and we have the support of countless others who are also striving for a better, brighter future.

As the great philosopher Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Let us remember this as we enter the new year, and let us work together to achieve great things. So as we enter into the new

year, let us not forget the lessons that we have learned and the strength that we have gained. Let us continue to be kind and compassionate and to strive for a better future for all. Let us be inspired by one another. Let us draw strength from the achievements of those who have come before us, and let us support and encourage one another as we pursue our own dreams and goals.

We are deeply grateful for all the support of our publication and our team over the years. We are committed to bringing you the stories of the incredible people, events, and businesses that make up our community.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year for us all! Let us embrace the possibilities and opportunities that it holds, and let us support one another as we strive for a better future for all.

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of the Morro Bay Life.

Cheers!

Hayley, Nic, and family

“Each new year, we have before us a brand new book containing 365 blank pages. Let us fill them with all the forgotten things from last year — the words we forgot to say, the love we forgot to show, and the charity we forgot to offer.”

morro bay life is published monthly. all rights reserved, material may not be reprinted without written consent from the publisher. morro bay life made every effort to maintain the accuracy of information presented in this publication, but assumes no responsibility for errors, changes or omissions. morro bay life is a publication of 13 stars media. Contact Us 805.466.2585 Visit our website! morrobaylifenews.com PubliSherS Hayley & Nicholas Mattson hayley@13starsmedia.com COPY EDITOR Michael Chaldu LAYOUT DESIGN Neil Schumaker Benson Moore Community Writer Camille DeVaul Christianna Marks AD DESIGN Jen Rodman Ad ConSultant Dana McGraw AdminiStrator Cami Martin office@13starsmedia.com Beewench Farm Neil Farrell CONTRIBUTORS
MORROBAYLIFENEWS.COM Support Your Local Community. Get more eyes on your ad and promote your business when you advertise with Morro Bay Life. * Online only ads available as well for $225/mo. (300px x 250px) Contracts Open | 3 Month | 6 Month | 12 Month Ad Sizes * Full Half Quarter Eighth | 10”x 15.5” (H) | 10”x 7.75” (H) / 4.9” x 15.5” (V) | 4.9”x 7.75” (H) | 4.9”x 3.75” (H) Each issue is direct mailed to every Morro Bay residence and business address! Starting as low as $49/mo. SCAN THE QR TO GET STARTED! Secure your ad spot today! Ad Consultants are waiting! P.O. Box 6068, Atascadero, CA 93422 • 805-466-2585 • office@13starsmedia.com 2 • January 2023 • Morro Bay Life Making Communities Better Through Print™
Through Print making communities better

If you know of a business or non-profit that deserves a spotlight, please send your nomination to our Ambassador’s Committee for review by emailing Lynsey Hansen at lynsey@morrochamber.org.

congratulations

Fall in Love with Chamber Spotlights

The Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce is putting a spotlight on local businesses! Spotlight Businesses are nominated and selected by fellow business owners in Morro Bay as a standout business with exceptional ownership.

Business spotlights recognize Chamber member businesses that provide a consistent, positive customer experience, are actively engaged in the community and demonstrate resilience during challenging times.

Please help us CONGRATULATE these businesses on their spotlight award by visiting their establishments, purchasing their products or services, and leaving good reviews online.

Find your shopping ideas by following us on Facebook, Instagram or our website morrochamber.org.

For more information contact Lynsey Hansen, Membership Director at lynsey@morrochamber.org

 
 Making Communities Better Through Print™ Morro Bay Life • January 2023 • 3
HAPPY
HAPPY

Packed House for New Council Swearing In

Apacked house filled the Morro Bay Vets Hall on Dec. 13 for the time-honored tradition of welcom ing new City Council members and thanking and bidding adieu to outgoing members.

But this year’s transfer of power ceremony was historic, as the city seated an all-female council for the first time in the town’s 58-year history.

It was also a chance to say goodbye to two longtime employees and department heads attending the final City Council meeting of their long careers.

The city bid farewell to outgoing council members Jeff Heller and Dawn Addis, and Mayor Dr. John Headding, though Addis was not at the meeting, having already been sworn in as a State Assemblywomen for District 30, an office she won in the Nov. 8 election.

And City Clerk Dana Swanson swore in the new members — Councilwomen Zara Landrum and Cyndee Edwards, and new Mayor Carla Wixom, who along with sitting members Laurel Barton and Jen Ford, comprise Morro Bay’s first-ever all-female City Council.

It’s a milestone that only one other city — San Luis Obispo — has had in SLO County. SLO voters elected appointed Mayor Erica Stewart to her first two-year term, and appointed Councilwoman Michelle Shoresman and new member Emily Francis joined Vice Mayor Jan Marx and Councilwoman Andy Pease.

In Morro Bay, Headding opened the meeting acknowledging Police Chief Jody Cox and Harbor Director Eric Endersby, both of whom are slated to retire at the end of December.

He also noted the recent deaths of Gail Davis, the widow of the late Councilman Red Davis, who died in July 2021 (Ford was appointed to serve out his term), and former Chief Harbor Patrol Officer Dick Rodgers.

City Manager Scott Collins noted Cox and Endersby’s imminent retirements. “It’s really sad,” he said, thanking them for their many years of service and leadership in the city. He said the city was planning to fete both men in January, but Endersby was going on vacation to New Zealand and wouldn’t be able to attend.

In what amounted as a farewell address, Endersby thanked the mayor for mentioning Rodgers. “He hired me 30 years ago,” Endersby said.

He characterized his tenure leading the Harbor Department as his most rewarding job, his most maddening job, and the most fulfilling

Aaron Ochs said he was “full of gratitude” to the outgoing members, calling Heller “an amazing man.” Addis, he said, “was always a fighter for the people.”

He said while he’s sometimes disagreed with the mayor on issues, “it’s all out of love.”

Former Mayor Jamie Irons thanked the members for their four years of dedication and service and complimented the mayor on his leadership in securing funding for the city’s Water Reclamation Facility Project and during the COVID pandemic, as well as through the heart-breaking loss of Red Davis, who was the first Morro Bay Council member to die in office.

Irons also congratulated the new council members and thanked those who did not win office but stepped up to serve, calling their actions “admirable” and “commendable.”

Community volunteer Ken Vesterfelt also thanked Cox and Endersby, as well as all the former council members and mayors who were in attendance that night.

Vesterfelt said that in the 21 years he’s been a community volunteer working with the police department, Cox was “one of the most

that served while a new chief was being selected.

In his farewell address, Heller thanked Cox and urged the public to sign up for the MBPD Citizen’s Academy when it’s offered again. He said Endersby has had a tough job full of ups and downs, and he had “done outstanding.”

Heller joked that some 20 years ago, when he and his wife, Kerry, retired and moved to Morro Bay, they bought their house from realtor Vesterfelt and he asked him what kind of town is Morro Bay?

“Ken said, ‘Half the people like the Rock where it is; and half the people want to move it,’” Heller recalled. “And after 20 years and serving on the City Council, you were right.”

He also remembered how eight years ago he was shocked to see a “McMansion” was to be built in his neighborhood and decided to fight City Hall over it.

“That was the first time in my life that I got involved,” Heller said. He said the issue broke down to a question of “neighborhood character,” which he said was why they moved here and why they intend to stay here.

He came out against the WRF project and helped form Citizens for Affordable Living, or CAL, to fight the Prop. 218 vote in summer 2018 that gave final authorization for the WRF project, which originally stood at $126 million but has now ballooned to some $160 million and counting, as work on the project wraps up in anticipation of its full opening in early 2023.

He quoted an old adage, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

He joked that when he ran for City Council in 2018 and won by just 40 votes, he called his opponent and asked if he’d take the job off his hands, but he said, “No, you have to serve.”

He criticized a couple of recent decisions by the council — namely changing the height limits downtown on Morro Bay Boulevard and Main Street to 37 feet as part of a zoning ordinance update, and deciding to fly the rainbow pride flag at City Hall during Gay Pride Month.

He couldn’t understand how raising a flag was going to unite us. “Will it divide us?” he asked. He also called for more affordable housing to be built.

“I’ve done my best to represent your inter-

Marlys McPherson thanked the departing council members noting that she’d worked for two years with the mayor, Heller and Addis when she was on the council.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 6
ELECTION
Morro Bay’s first-ever all-female City Council is (from left) Councilwomen Zara Landrum and Laurel Barton; Mayor Carla Wixom; and Councilwomen Cyndee Edwards and Jen Ford. Photos by Neil Farrell
Medical Massage Therapy (818) 625-7490 742 Morro Bay Blvd, Morro Bay, CA 93442 8838 Morro Road, Suite A/B, Atascadero, CA 93422 26+ plus years of experience in Treating Structural & Pain Disorders Peace o f Mind Peace of Mind is a Place for healing and resting the mind, body & spirit Every Body Kneads Peace of Mind www.peaceofmind-massage-morrobay Atty. David R. Duringer, JD, LL.M (Tax) 805-225-5105 www.Protect.LIFE ESTATE PLANNING for Asset Protection & Family Protection Business & Services di rectory 4 • January 2023 • Morro Bay Life Making Communities Better Through Print™
New Morro Bay City Councilwomen (from left): Cyndee Edwards and Zara Landrum, with new Mayor Carla Wixom, take the oath of office from City Clerk Dana Swanson (right).

Morro Bay has a new police chief, albeit on an interim basis for now.

City Manager Scott Collins announced on Dec. 16 that he’d chosen an interim chief, as the city goes about finding a permanent replacement for retiring Police Chief Jody Cox. And he didn’t have to look far.

MBPD Cmdr. Amy Watkins takes over post, Collins announced, effective Dec. 31, the day after Cox retires.

“I conducted surveys of the Morro Bay Police team and the community,” Collins said, “and there was resounding support for the current direction of the Police Department. Further, many respondents stated their desire for the city to look internally for the next chief.

“Amy has prepared herself for this role and I look forward to working closely with her. Lastly, I want to thank Chief Cox for his leadership and for helping

to develop Watkins for the Chief position. We wish Chief Cox all the best in the next chapter of his life.”

Ironically, the city recently held a recognition dinner for its employees, where Cox received a 10-year commemorative service pin, getting some props days before he retires.

Cox was happy his second-in-command will step into his immediate shoes.

“I wholeheartedly support this decision and believe that not only is the department in a good place now, but it will continue to move forward building upon all the positive work we have accomplished over the past few years,” he said. “I am extremely proud to have been a part of building our current team and each one of you have made significant contributions toward our success. I have absolute faith and confidence that the department will continue to build upon our accomplishments working alongside Commander Watkins as the Interim Chief.”

Watkins was honored.

“It is an honor serving the community of Morro Bay,” she said. “I am excited for this opportunity to continue to lead the dedicated men and women of the Morro Bay Police Department.”

Watkins came to Morro Bay in August 2019 from

the Visalia PD, where she’d worked since 2000. She graduated from the police academy in 2019.

She held a lot of different assignments at VPD including patrol officer, school resource officer, and sergeant, and she was a lieutenant when she got the commander job in Morro Bay. It didn’t hurt that she and Cox who also came from Tulare County, go way back in law enforcement.

“I knew Chief Cox here for a while,” she said in a previous interview. “He was my recruitment officer 20 years ago, when he was with the Sheriff’s Department.”

Watkins, should she be picked for the permanent job, would follow in the footsteps of past commanders who promoted up to chief, including retired chiefs Joe Loven, John DeRohan and Cox, as well as Tim Olivas, who left the MBPD chief job to become the undersheriff under SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson. Olivas has since retired too.

If Watkins does get the full-time job, she will be just the second female police chief in town history, after former Chief Amy Christy.

Watkins, according to a news release, has worked with Cox leading the department through an expansion of community programs, including launching a Citizen’s Academy, the Police Chief’s Advisory

Board, and mobile phone app, among others. Since coming to Morro Bay, she has helped train new police officers and sergeants and served on the city emergency team “to help aide the City and community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Collins’ news release said. “Prior to coming to Morro Bay, Amy accumulated 20 years of law enforcement experience with the Visalia Police Department.”

In one of their last official acts, the outgoing Morro Bay City Council approved giving out a large chunk of cash as part of the annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocations.

Senior City Planner Cindy Jacinth presented the item at the council’s Dec. 13 meeting, the final one before turning over power to the newly elected members. The city had an estimated $52,300 in 2023 CDBG monies, and coupled that with another $37,400 carried over from unspent monies for 2022 for a total of $89,800.

And like past years, the city kept most of the money for its own uses, though it did allocate $3,500 to the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition, a South County nonprofit that works to find housing for the homeless and which has come up to Morro Bay and helped a handful of local homeless folks find housing. The city kept some $3,600 to administrate the grants.

But the largest chunk of money — about $75,000 — was allocated to the City Public Works Department for improvements to the intersection of Main Street and Quintana Road for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.

According to a report, that project description is for “Installation of an audible signal crossing and ADA compliant pedestrian push button at

the intersection of Main and Quintana Streets, the primary traffic signal in the city, and the installation of ADA curb ramps with detectable surfaces. Goal of program is to increase safety and facilitate improved accessibility for senior residents and persons with disabilities.”

As for the 5CHC’s allocation, it was to go towards the group’s “Rapid-Rehousing Program, which includes connecting families and individuals with time-limited financial assistance and targeted supportive services, and housing stabilization services,” the report said.

But these amounts may not hold up, as the city’s estimate of $52,300 for 2023 is based on preliminary discussions and indications from the federal government, where CDBG monies originate.

The CDBG allotments are based on population, so Morro Bay normally receives the minimal amount each year.

Back in 2011, the city joined with other agencies to form the “Urban County Consortium,” the report said, “which is a consortium of participating local jurisdictions that includes San Luis Obispo County and the cities of Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, and Arroyo Grande for the purpose of receiving and allocating federal CDBG funds.”

CDBG grants are designed to address certain national objectives: a benefit to low and moderate-income persons; to aid in the prevention or elimination of blight; and, to address urgent

needs that pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community.

So how does a rebuilt intersection satisfy these goals? “The application,” the report said of Public Works’ project, “stemmed from resident requests for ADA improvements at this intersection, including for visually impaired pedestrians in a high-traffic area. In addition, the project would

include installation of ADA curb ramps with detectable surfaces.”

The intersection project is also drawing down some of the city’s other funds. “Public Works’ application identifies leveraged funds of $490,000 of a SLOCOG Betterments Grant and $90,000 of local funds from Measures Q and E,” the report said.

MBPD Commander Named Interim Chief MORRO BAY POLICE DEPARTMENT Cmdr. Amy Watkins named interim chief, effective Dec. 31 HOLIDAY EVENTS City Council Allocates Community Grant Funds Borrowers must maintain property as primary residence and remain current on property taxes, homeowners insurance and any fees such as homeowner association dues as applicable. Bob Gayle 805/772-3658 Real Estate Broker, CA Dept. of Real Estate, License# 466813 • NMLS License# 582948 Reverse Mortgage Specialist NMLS License# 1688022 Call today to learn the latest about this exciting program for accessing your home’s equity. Reverse mortgage loans may not be for everyone, but they are better than ever—with reduced origination costs and restructured principle limits designed to preserve more of your equity for the future. If you’ve considered reverse mortgages in the past, you owe it to yourself to speak to an experienced professional to see if this innovative, updated financial product is now a good fit for your circumstances. * Make no monthly mortgage payments * Take proceeds as a line of credit, monthly income or a lump sum. Or all three. * Use the proceeds as you see fit. * You keep title to your home A reverse mortgage loan could help you visit the kids. A lot. Expert Consultation Ÿ Professional Installation Ÿ Computer Tutors On-Site Service Ÿ Wi-Fi, TV mounts & Univeral Remotes Ÿ Smartphones Need to know who’s knocking? Traveling? FREE quote for observation systems for peace of mind. Home Theater & Observation Systems Components furnished & installed by Coast Electronics coastelectronic.com Follow us on Curbside service available. OPEN FOR BUSINESS! San Luis Obispo 1336 Madonna Road 805-544-5400 Morro Bay 510 Quintana Road 805-772-1265 Paso Robles 1171 Creston Rd. # 109 805-369-2811 Making Communities Better Through Print™ Morro Bay Life • January 2023 • 5
CMDR. AMY WATKINS

Chicken Soup for a Healthy New Year

Happy New Year. It’s time to create some goals and focus on the future. Personally, I come up with a few goals that I like to write down every year. I print them out and put them somewhere I can read them every morning. Focusing on those goals in the morning helps me work all day with them in mind.

One goal that I write down every year is to eat healthier. It’s reoccurring because I am always trying to get better at it. I know this is a common goal among many of us, but it can be difficult to stick to. After having this goal staring me in the face every morning for the past four years, I have improved my health immensely through better food choices. I have also experimented, learned a ton, and failed a bunch in the past four years, but I never gave up.

Did you know that most grocery produce loses a lot of nutrient density because it sits so long in boxes before getting to the shelf? Our local farmers usually harvest the produce they are selling to you that morning. This means that when you buy your fruits and veggies at a local market, you are already improving your health through greater nutrition. Eating more fruits and veggies also increases the amount of fiber in your diet, which helps you feel fuller and cleanses your gut.

This month’s recipe may seem a little boring, but soup is one of the healthiest and most nutrientdense foods that you can eat. It also has been proven to help people lose weight, help with several health issues, and can help heal their gut. It’s also great to help you overcome any illness and prevent them. It’s also souper versatile, and you can add in any veggies and flavors to make it taste great to you.

I also highly recommend making your own chicken stock or broth. It’s super easy and will save you a ton of money. If you are interested in trying that, we have great recipes for stock and bone broth on our BeeWench Farm website. We also sell premade bone broth at our stand. This soup goes very well with a side salad. My

NEW COUNCILMEMBERS

ests,” Heller said to the community members. He thanked the city’s various consultants and advisory boards and said they were “a key part of this city and I hope the new City Council will better communicate with you.”

Headding thanked Heller for bringing his experience and opinions, which “you are not afraid to express. I consider you a friend.”

He said the reason he decided to run for City Council eight years ago was because of the “dire financial straits the city appeared to be in. Radical changes needed to be made.”

“The public process was totally new to me,” he said. “A public process can wear on you but eventually you love it.”

He complimented Morro Bay as a community that was active, engaged, intelligent, and informed. He pointed to the public podium where citizens address the council, which can be harrowing for some not used to public speaking. He wanted to make the podium “a warm and welcoming place.”

He was proud to play a part in hiring Collins as city manager, calling him an asset to the whole community. He said Collins was, “civil, kind, curious and you care” about the city employees and the community.

He praised all the council people he’s served with and the amount of dedication it takes acknowledging that “Some people don’t like some of us, myself included.”

Headding had drawn the criticism of some in the community for seemingly unwavering support for the WRF, a proposed battery facility at the power plant, and the proposed offshore floating wind farms, which the federal government just recently sold leases to.

He thanked his wife, Sue, who he said was

favorite side salad is red romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, red onion, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, and avocado with a vinegar and olive oil dressing. I also love having fresh sourdough bread with soup and we have some amazing local bakers at the markets every week.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup Ingredients

• 4 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 small onion (diced)

2 stalks celery (diced)

1 ½ teaspoons salt

• ½ teaspoon black pepper

• 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (we love Bren’s Poultry Seasoning)

• 2 teaspoons garlic powder

• 4 large carrots (peeled and sliced into ½” rounds)

• 8 cups of chicken stock or bone broth

“polar opposite” of himself and didn’t much like the spotlight that being the mayor’s wife brings.

Collins thanked Headding for leaving the city with healthy reserves and leading the approval of Measure E-22 sales tax increase that has gone a long way to shore up the city’s finances.

City Clerk Dana Swanson swore in the new councilwomen, who then took their seats for the first time. Mayor Wixom said, “Well look at us, five women,” to a round of applause from the audience.

In her remarks, Edwards said the past month “was quite a nail-biter,” as votes continued to be counted in the council race, and she held onto a slim lead. “It’s been like a race where you can see the finish line and can’t seem to get there fast enough.”

She thanked her husband, family, and clients, whom she had been bouncing ideas off for years (Edwards is the former board president of the Chamber of Commerce).

“The past couple of years have been tough,” Edwards said. Over the pandemic, she realized that “Service is not just what I like to do, but who I am.” She said the City Council could do a better job of communicating and could be more visible.

She pledged, “The five of us have your welfare in our hearts.”

Landrum teared up when she thanked her mom, who helped her campaign often and joined her in knocking on doors. She pledged to “do whatever I can to keep Morro Bay as it is.”

Wixom said she wanted the community “to help us move forward.” She said the town was at a crossroads and must decide if it wants to again be industrialized or a modern city. She also said she was blessed to have four genera-

• 2 cups noodles (we like Etto Pasta noodles, but egg noodles work well too) 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken (you can also use raw chicken, read note in directions)

Instructions:

1. Add the olive oil, diced onions and celery to a large pot and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and garlic powder and cook an additional 2 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

2. Pour the chicken stock into the stockpot and add the sliced carrots. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes to soften the carrots.

3. Add the noodles and shredded chicken to the pot. Bring the broth back up to a simmer and cook until the noodles are done and the chicken

is heated through, about 5 minutes.

Notes:

For raw, boneless, skinless chicken breast: Use 2 large chicken breast that have been cut in half to help it cook faster. Add the raw chicken to the stockpot in step 3 and allow the chicken to simmer in the broth for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken and use two forks to shred the meat before adding it back into the pot along with the dry noodles. Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until the noodles are done.

I like to make the noodles separate and add them in when I make up a bowl to eat. This way, you can freeze any leftover soup without the noodles. Cooked noodles never seem to thaw well. If you want to stay away from gluten, swap the noodles for rice.

• For extra flavor, pick up some cheese from Vintage Cheese to grate over the top.

tions of her family in attendance — her mom, husband, daughter and grandchildren and pledged “I will be open and available.”

The new council’s first official meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 10.

On the horizon, the council will oversee the completion of the WRF treatment plant, and will have to negotiate with the three companies that bought leases for the offshore wind farms, which at this time are expected to bring the power ashore at the power plant.

It will also have to tackle the Battery Energy Storage System or BESS project that Vistra Energy has proposed for its power plant property, an issue that each said was of great concern to the residents, which became clear during the campaign.

All three, in election Q&As, said they were somewhat leery of the project and whether it’s appropriate for the community.

New Morro Bay Mayor Carla Wixom smiles as she takes the gavel for the first time. Photos by Neil Farrell
THE FARM STAND
CONTINUED
FROM PAGE 4
6 • January 2023 • Morro Bay Life Making Communities Better Through Print™
Mayor Dr. John Headding and wife, Sue, pose for a photo during the transfer of power ceremony.

Wash Away the Old, Ring in the New

For the past 43 years, folks in Cayucos have rung in the New Year and helped ease New Year’s Eve hangovers with a wacky Jan. 1 tradition — a polar bear dip.

Named after Carlin B. Soulé, a local artist, surfer, and local yokel, who, in 1979, decided to jump in the Pacific Ocean on New Year’s Day. Some say he had a hangover; others that he was just bored and wanted to do something different.

Several of his buddies joined him and decided to make this polar bear dip an annual thing.

Flash forward four decades, and Soulé’s little wake-me-upper has turned into one of the biggest and wackiest events of the year in Cayucos, “Where the Old West Meets the Sea.”

It’s not the biggest such polar plunge and certainly wasn’t the first, but you’d be hardpressed to find a more fun one anywhere.

The day starts early on Jan. 1 with dozens, then hundreds, and eventually upwards of 6,000 people turning out on the beach to, well, party.

And what a party it is, with many folks dressed in costume, with a cocktail in hand. On any given Dip, you could see anyone from Elvis to the Flintstones. There’ve been Where’s Waldo crews, pirates, minions, witches, sea creatures, Three Blind Mice, La Lucha Libre wrestlers, and even a Thing One or Thing Two.

You may see a grown man with a beard, dressed in a blonde wig and mermaid tail, hairy beer belly hanging out, with a tiara on his head. There will surely be a few mermaids and mermen, jellyfish, sharks, and even a few polar bears and T-Rexes, too.

Yes, the pre-dip festivities on the beach can be a blast, especially during the rather unruly costume contest where they give out “Certificates of Awards” — suitable for framing — to winners in several categories and costume types, including scariest, funniest, weirdest, best family group, farthest traveled, plus awards to the youngest and oldest polar bear dippers. The costume contest alone is worth the drive to Cayucos on New Year’s Day.

In years past, the youngest polar bear dipper has been as young as two years old, and the oldest in 2020 was in her 90s. Folks have come from as far away as Mexico, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Spain, with the farthest traveler also getting a certificate.

Walking the beach before the dippers hit the water finds folks of all walks of life — from elementary school kids dragged to Cayucos by their grandparents to grandparents dragged to Cayucos by their grandkids.

College students make the Polar Bear Dip

an annual rite of passage, which it really is.

Now no one would believe that jumping into the Pacific Ocean is going to solve their problems, but it is a refreshing and symbolic way to wash away the old year and start the new one with fresh hopes and dreams.

As high noon approaches, thousands of polar bear dippers gather en masse at the water’s edge, jumping with excitement and anticipation. Above, folks have lined the Cayucos Pier five deep to watch the spectacle.

If you like photography, the Cayucos Polar Bear Dip is a must-shoot.

Then with a countdown from 10, everyone makes a mad dash into the water.

Members of Cal Fire, with help from the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol, Morro Bay and SLO County ocean lifeguards, the Coast Guard, and ambulance paramedics, with a few undercover Sheriff’s deputies roaming the beach, are on hand to make sure everyone is safe. Though it takes just a few minutes to do, the public safety preparations are extensive, covering the beach, the waves, and the water further out.

The mad dash into the water is quite a spectacle as the folks who paraded around for the costume contest quickly discover that the ocean will rip your costume to shreds. As a piece of advice, don’t wear anything into the water that you don’t want ruined, or lost.

Here are a few other tips for first-time Polar Bear Dippers: Wear shoes, as Cayucos beach this time of year can be very rocky, with lost of driftwood sticks everywhere.

• Wear a bathing suit (shorts?) and a T-shirt.

• If you want to record yourself with a video camera or cellphone, make sure it is in a

water-tight case because it will get wet, or the ocean might just rip it right our of your hands as you tumble around in the waves.

• Bring a towel and dry clothes to change into. If it’s a warm day, you probably won’t need them, but there have been a few Polar Bear Dips when it was raining and cold. By the way, cold and rainy weather will not stop the Polar Bear Dip; neither can a pandemic. In 2021 and ‘22, when the dip was officially canceled due to the Covid pandemic, hundreds of people still turned out to take the plunge.

• In order to get a free “Certificate of Stamina”

suitable for framing, one must go completely underwater — a true “dip.” So my advice is to grab your friend or spouse’s hand, wade into the water about thigh deep, and when the next wave comes rolling in, dive under it. It’s best not to think too much about it.

• Look out for your fellow dippers, as wave action can knock someone off balance, and they may need help getting back on their feet.

The goal is for everyone to have fun and make it out of the water safely.

The Carlin B. Soulé Memorial Cayucos Polar Bear Dip begins at noon every year on Jan. 1. The Carlin B. Soulé Memorial Cayucos Polar Bear Dip, held on New Year’s Day, has been known to draw upwards of 6,000 people.
— a true “dip.”
In order to get a free “Certificate of Stamina” at the Polar Bear Dip, one must go completely underwater Contributed Photos
Cayucos Polar Bear Dip, a New Year’s Tradition
The Polar Bear Dip is known for the creative costumes worn by many of it participants.
The ONLY Bead & Garden Shop on the Central Coast! OPEN EVERY DAY! EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BEAD as well as a huge selection of succulents, air plants and miniature garden accessories 333 Morro Bay Blvd., Morro Bay, CA 805.772.3338 morrobaybeads.com The ON L Y Bead & Ga r den Shop on the Cent r al Coast! OPEN EVE R Y D A Y! EVE R YTHING Y OU NEED T O BEAD as well as a huge selection of succulents , air plants and miniatu r e ga r den accessories Bay Blvd. , Ba y , CA 2 .3 33 8 morrobaybeads.com REALTOR® SANDY CARINO Broker Associate Realtor® | Lic#02007590 (805)714 - 8223 scarino@pbnassoc.com homesbysandycarino.com VERONICA CHAVEZ Mortgage Loan Officer NMLS#1148073 Lic#01943051 (805)714 - 3432 veronica@pbnassoc.com pbnassoc.com/veronicachavez ~ ~ We Are Here To Help With All Of Your Real Estate & Financing Needs...Let’s Talk. Hablamos Espanol HAPPY NEW YEAR! Lic#01844354 NMLS#352390 Making Communities Better Through Print™ Morro Bay Life • January 2023 • 7
MORRO BAY • CAYUCOS • LOS OSOS • SAN LUIS OBISPO • CAMBRIA • ATASCADERO • PASO ROBLES • ARROYO GRANDE LISA MIA REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL LIC. #01945215 805 MAIN STREET MORRO BAY, CA 93442 LISA@LISAMIA.COM 805.279.9381 Grateful
to the families that have TRUSTED ME to facilitate the sale or purchase of their homes because real estate is so much more than a transaction, it is about the people we meet, the friends and communities we serve and the benefits of home ownership. If you are considering making a move please feel free to contact me as I would love to assist. As we move into 2023, we are currently still in a sellers market, however the trend is changing. Most recently the median list price for Morro Bay, is $1,147,500 with the market action index hovering around 38, last month's market action index was 45.
we
year
2022 Zillow.com/Profile/Lisa-Mia/ EMERALD ELITE AWARD WINNER FOR 2021 This distinct recognition is the highest-ranking award for BHGRE and puts me in the top 2% category of agents in our national brand 8 • January 2023 • Morro Bay Life Making Communities Better Through Print™
As
transition to the new
it's time to reflect on the past and envision the future.