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The Great Morgani Wears Peppers for his 16th Anniversary Weekend

At 70, Santa Cruz's favorite street performer has amassed 130 hand-sewn costumes, 40 accordions, and has no desire to stop keeping Santa Cruz weird.

The Great Morgani is sporting a costume he calls "The Bell Pepper Factory" this weekend, which marks his 16th year performing his accordion music on Pacific Avenue.

"Sixteen years ago I started as the Great Morgani, with just funny pants and a hat. And I was not masked up. I didn't know it was going to last this long," he told Patch, amid a bustle of Black Friday shoppers on Pacific Avenue.

"The Bell Pepper Factory" costume is refurbished from an outfit he wore for Halloween ten years ago. He's added hundreds of golden squares cut from a rubber exercise ball. They shimmer iridescent in the sun, which he loves.

"Anything to attract attention," he said.

The three bell peppers that hang from his accordion were an afterthought, he said, just to keep it colorful.

"And on Sunday after I'm done playing and they're as shrivelled as me, I'll eat them," he said, his eyes shining through tiny holes in his black body suit and mask.

And while his bizarre and sometimes garish outfits do attract quite a bit of attention, the Great Morgani says he's rarely met with anything but open arms and fascination while playing on Pacific Avenue.

"I've been harassed very little, which is surprising for what I wear," he said. "But it has what I call the ebb and flow, sometimes the crowd can get a little edgy."

It really depends on if he wants to play on the "Carmel" or "Beirut" end of Pacific Avenue. On Friday, he was propped up about midway, just down from the Palomar.

Although The Great Morgani just celebrated his 70th birthday, he doesn't plan on stopping any time soon. His collection of 40 accordions and 130 meticulously hand-sewn costumes will likely continue to grow. 

"The accordion's getting heavier or I'm getting weaker but I'm still having fun, and that's the operative word in all of this," he said. "The ultimate compliment for me is 'your music makes me happy' or 'your music makes me smile.'" 

The Great Morgani will be on Pacific Avenue in "The Bell Pepper Factory" costume all weekend. Read more about The Great Morgani's story.

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