The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History will be open for the first time on the Fourth of July this year. Previously, under city management, the Museum remained closed on this holiday. We are now an independently run, community supported non-profit.
With thousands of people enjoying Seabright Beach (directly across the street from the Museum) on the Fourth, we felt it would be a great opportunity to celebrate with our community and further our mission to connect people with nature and inspire stewardship of the natural world.
Appearing at the event will be two local historical legends, Laura Hecox and Old Man Neary.
Laura Hecox was the lighthouse keeper's daughter, and avid Santa Cruz naturalist, who founded the Museum in 1904 with her shell collection. The Museum holds Hecox's original shell collection in an antique cabinet. Mrs. Hecox herself will be on hand to unlock the drawers and share her beautiful assemblage of carefully collected artifacts with visitors, hoping to inspire future naturalists and collectors.
Old Man Neary, aka James Neary, was the Irish emigrant who settled the Neary Lagoon area in 1876. Old Man Neary will enlighten attendees about the diverse variety of plants, animals, and birds unique to the Neary Lagoon ecosystem. This past year, the Museum won the inaugural award for Excellence in Museum Education from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for our Neary Lagoon Wetland Walk. The Walk is a three-part learning experience for third graders that explores the unique characteristics and vital functions of a wetland habitat, the local historical influences on the lagoon ecosystem, and the importance of wetland preservation. Old Man Neary has been known to make an appearance on these walks.
We will also have a good old fashioned Fourth of July BBQ, with both hotdogs and veggidogs, crafts for kids, including the construction of paper firecrackers, face painting, and a red, white, and blue streamer decoration activity of the life-size grey whale that rests in front of the Museum. We will hand out trash bags and encourage stewardship of Seabright Beach. The Museum will be open from 10am to 5pm.