OCEANSIDE — With the help of a few mermaids and pirates, thousands of residents and tourists celebrated the end of summer last weekend during the annual Harbor Days festival.
Local vendors set up tents full of succulents, dresses, artwork, food and various other items while first responders had an entire section full of police cars, a SWAT truck and fire trucks both old and new. Those who were of age could also visit the beer garden sponsored by Prohibition Brewing Company.
On the beach sat a small, makeshift village populated with buccaneers and their aquatic counterparts. The mermaids fanned their fins and spoke of their underwater homes to young admirers while the pirates tried recruiting impressionable youth to their maritime lifestyle, testing their strength by making them walk the plank and other swashbuckling trials.
Visiting town from the Sacramento area, Dorothy Bray brought her 3-year-old daughter Lila to the harbor to see “as many mermaids as possible.”
Each morning on Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22 kicked off with a pancake breakfast put on by the Oceanside Fire Department Association, another reminder that Harbor Days is for the Oceanside community.
For Oceanside resident Jonathan Maxwell, Harbor Days is where people can find locals selling goods.
“I like coming here because it’s all mom-and-pop shops,” Maxwell said. “I know downtown Oceanside’s getting very commercial, but this is all locals.”
On Sunday, the Nail ‘N Sail event, one of Harbor Days’ most popular attractions, began with teams building their own boats and paddles right on the beach. Their objective was to build a boat that they could successfully paddle back and forth across the harbor without sinking.
Team Pumpkin Spice Must Flow, a name appropriate for the season, was one of the teams daring enough to take on the task. Sunday’s event was a first for the trio who made up the team — Ezra Spencer, Josh Warner and Andrew Hostler — three friends from Oceanside and Vista.
According to Spencer, the team chose to build a catamaran, a boat with two parallel hulls of equal size.
“It’s essentially two mini-boats connected by a cross piece,” Spencer said, adding that this makes the watercraft more stable.
The team was ultimately there for a good time, not to show off their boatbuilding skills.
“We’re here for fun,” Hostler said.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son