hospitality santa cruz beach boardwalk
October 2019

Work and Play Can Mix

New class at Boardwalk prepares students for hospitality jobs

Always Amused: October 2019

By Erik Chalhoub

High school students across the county are gathering once a week to learn the ins and outs of the hospitality and tourism industry.

Erik Chalhoub

And they are doing it at the most fitting location possible: the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Career Technical Education Partnership (CTEP) program teamed up recently with the Boardwalk to offer the new CTEP Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation course.

“One of the benefits is they get to know the behind-the-scenes of one of the coolest local employers,” Mollenauer said. “It’s like a little village.”

Mollenauer said the class operates as a roundtable discussion, with students and instructor discussing the numerous topics associated with the industry, including customer expectations, lodging, event planning, private events and more.

The year-long class got underway in September. Led by 12-year culinary professional Andrea Mollenauer, the class touches on the various aspects of the tourism industry, including hospitality, food service, health and safety and culinary arts.

In addition to class time, students will also get paid to work one shift per month at the Boardwalk.

“Having a hands-on conversation in a small group is a much more functional way to keep students engaged and really get them talking about the subject matter,” she said.

Mark Hodges, Santa Cruz County CTEP director, said the class helps youth prepare for jobs in a growing industry.

hospitality santa cruz beach boardwalk

“Whether it is a career plan or a passion, the students in the Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation course at the Boardwalk will develop skills that will prepare them for an estimated 1,400 new jobs in leisure and hospitality from 2016-2026 in Santa Cruz County,” he said.

Looking at a bigger picture, Mollenauer said nearly a third of all jobs in California are in the hospitality industry, and the skills learned can carry over in other industries.

“Even if students are not intending on making a career out of it, they get a chance to explore careers,” she said.

Students interested in signing up for next year’s class are encouraged to talk to their school counselor or call the CTEP office at 466-5760.

Boardwalk named ‘Legend’

The Boardwalk has dominated Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards, having received “Best Seaside Park” honors 11 times since 2007.

Amusement Today switched things up this year during its awards ceremony held at Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho in September.

The “Best Seaside Park” category was retired this year, and instead, the Boardwalk was recognized as a Golden Ticket Awards Legend.

“Winning the Golden Ticket for Best Seaside Park over so many years and now retiring as a ‘Legend’ is a huge honor,” said Tom Canfield, the Boardwalk’s vice president. “The Golden Tickets have helped showcase our park’s importance in the industry and made our employees and guests proud.  It was a very fun ride.”

The Golden Ticket Awards are presented annually to honor the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today.

Gold Striker at California’s Great America came in at number 12 in the top 50 best wooden roller coasters in the world list. The Boardwalk’s Giant Dipper ranked 17th.

Get your fright on

The days are getting shorter, and the weather can’t make up its mind if it wants to be hot or cold. Yes, fall has begun and it is now October, but something much more exciting is here again.

Halloween has arrived.

California’s Great America’s 12th annual Halloween Haunt got underway Sept. 27 and runs select nights through Nov. 2.

New this year is Wax Museum Blackout, which is a new twist on one of the best mazes of Haunt. The park has shut the lights off, and brave souls must traverse the completely dark maze with only a flashlight. Who is real and who is just a statue?

For information, visit

The Boardwalk is also getting into the Halloween spirit this year with the debut of Fright Flicks on Wednesday nights from Oct. 9-30.

Attendees will experience a scary movie in the Cocoanut Grove. The lineup for the 21-and-older series includes Jordan Peele’s “Us,” “Jaws,” “Shaun of the Dead” and “Halloween.”

More information can be found at

If these sound too frightful, head over to Gilroy Gardens for its Halloween event billed as “spooky but not too scary.” The event, which runs select days through Nov. 2, features trick-or-treating, light displays, a live musical and more.

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