Voted the World’s Best Seaside Park

Family Ties, 2006

My earliest memories of the Boardwalk are rooted in my youth. As a child, there was no place I’d rather be than boarding the Red Baron, the Cave Train, or the Great Auto Race. I remember the disappointment of being too small to ride the Bumper Cars, and the fear I felt the first time I sat in the Giant Dipper as it inched toward the top of the hill.

At fourteen I began working at the Boardwalk, not of my own free will, but because my parents wanted to get me out of the house and teach me values learned only in the workplace. During the next ten years I experienced first-hand what it took to run a small business and the blood, sweat, and tears necessary to make the Boardwalk the shining star it is in our community, throughout California, and across the country.

Over time I learned that my own family’s history at the Boardwalk runs much deeper than my individual experiences. My great, great-uncle, C. B. Bender, a man I know only through photos and stories, worked as a concessionaire renting umbrellas and selling jewelry in the 1930s and ’40s. My grandmother worked at the Boardwalk as a teenager, as did my mom, in an ice cream shop that still stands today. My brother and sister also worked at the Boardwalk, and I can only imagine that one day my own children will work here as well.


Kris Reyes, Community Relations Director for the Santa Cruz Seaside Company.

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