Teams prepping to compete in last Begonia Festival

MARINA, Calif. - About 10 million begonias are up for grabs for teams competing in the Capitola Begonia Festival Nautical Parade.

"We've been doing it on and off since this guy was 10, so 20 years we done it,” said Ginger Pomeroy, as she pointed to her son. “The kids have a lot of fun and the adults have a lot of fun. We just love doing it."

Picking the best flowers takes time and technique. 

"Get low, get in with the flowers,” said Robert Armbrust with the Santa Cruz SPCA. “You realize that the best flowers are always in the next row over, so you spend a lot of time walking and searching. But it's fantastic fun."

Once picked, about 15, 000 flowers will adorn the fun and fanciful floats which will parade down Soquel Creek in the Nautical Parade.

This will be the last Begonia Festival. The Golden State Bulb Growers, based in Marina, are the last source of begonia blossoms and have decided to retire this year.

"It's been difficult competing in a global market with the other competition, south of Central America or the Netherlands,” said Justin Brown, owner of Golden State Bulb Growers. “Here, our costs have gone up quite a bit. it's hard for us to compete. So we've decided we're going to cease operations after this season.”

A bittersweet ending for many.

"Heartfelt, a lot of gratitude for 65 years of begonias from the growers,” said Laurie Hill with the Capitola Begonia Festival. “A lot of gratitude for the many, many, hundreds of volunteers over 65 years that have kept this festival knitted together.”

With this being the last Begonia Festival, record crowds are expected along with unique floats.

"Our float is designed to take a bow wow to the last begonia festival,” said Izmar Hook with the Capitola Mall. “So it's going to be doggy and kitty themed." 

The Nautical Parade starts this Sunday in the Capitol Village at 1pm. 

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