The city kicked off the Memorial Day weekend on Friday when it marked the grand opening of its newly engineered beach during a ceremony on the boardwalk at Riverside Boulevard.
The event featured musical performances and a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the near-completion of a $230 million coastal protection project that the Army Corps of Engineers began in 2016. The work included the reconstruction of jetties and dunes across the beach that led to a number of partial beach closures over the past two summers.
"The completion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach renourishment signifies a monumental milestone in the city's history.," City Councilman Anthony Eramo said in a statement. "For the first time ever, we have an engineered beach, designed to withstand future storms."
The city has also launched a $50,000 advertising campaign to kick off the Memorial Day weekend, an effort aimed at attracting visitors to Long Beach this summer.
The marketing effort, which the city said was set to begin before Memorial Day, includes television, digital and print platforms targeting Long Island, New York City and Connecticut residents.
With work on the Army Corps project complete — the agency is in the process of finishing a number of dune crossovers — city officials said that all of the city’s beaches would be open this summer, and the campaign is aimed at boosting revenue. The beaches will be open weekends only through June 23. Lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty.
“Long Beach’s beauty markets itself, but we need to make sure everyone knows the beach replenishment phase is done,” Eramo said. “Our visitors help cover the cost of maintaining our beautiful beaches and boost our local economy by visiting our unique shops and restaurants.”
In 2013, the city launched a major ad campaign featuring Long Beach native Billy Crystal. The campaign, “Long Beach is Open for Business,” was aimed at informing the public about the progress the city made in its recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
“After Sandy, we felt that it was essential to do everything we could to remind folks that Long Beach was open,” city spokesman Gordon Tepper said. “It’s a similar message that Long Beach is open for business, and our theme for the first leg of the campaign is summer starts here. The idea is to promote local businesses and boost beach pass sales.”
Last year, the city took in $4.1 million in beach pass revenue, and officials budgeted $4.9 million this year.
“Last year’s revenue was down due to poor weather, especially on weekends and confusion about the Army Corps project,” Tepper said. “We’re hopeful we can combine the good weather with some good marketing and spreading the word that our beaches are open.”
The ad campaign is being funded through sponsorships and the city’s general fund. It will feature 15- and 30-second TV commercials on Altice, Verizon and Time Warner Cable-Spectrum that will run for six weeks beginning in June, including spots during Mets and Yankees games.
“We have 15- and 30-second commercials that our creative team is currently working on that will run on news networks, sports channels, the Travel Channel, HGTV and The Weather Channel,” Tepper said.
Additionally, the city has launched a social media campaign with ads on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube that are running from May to September which include the hashtag #summerstartshere.
The city is also using the campaign as a platform to highlight a number big events that are returning this year, such as the city’s summer concert series, the Long Beach International Film Festival in August and the LGBT Network’s Pride on the Beach in June, as well as a number of new events, including the World Surf League’s professional longboard competition in September.
“Part of these ads is to promote major events, such as LGBT pride, the fireworks extravaganza, the film festival and the surfing tour,” Tepper said.