Guest Column

With Quiksilver Pro N.Y., Long Beach finds its identity

Cancellation of Quiksilver fest hurt merchants, but contest illustrated city’s character


Congratulations Long Beach, it looks like you finally have found your identity. For many years, it appeared that Long Beach could not decide if it wanted to be a Coney Island or a Point Lookout.

On one hand, a portion of the town wanted to welcome the tourists and the business that they bring, and on the other, there were those residents who had no use for outsiders, the parking spaces that they take up and the noise that they bring. Given that divide, the concept of an international surfing contest such as the Quiksilver Pro New York and the ensuing hoopla seemed like a bold concept. Ultimately, a decision by the city to host the event was made, albeit one that appears to have been made in secret and with virtually no public input or even a contract.

The reason given for Quiksilver’s Sept. 1-15 time period and location was that it was meant to coincide with hurricane season that could generate ideal waves necessary for such a contest — and Mother Nature did not disappoint. After all, Surfline forecasters, using a 15-year wave study for western Long Island, summarized that September is one of the most consistent time periods for sizable surf in the region.

Perhaps the prediction was ominous, and why it was such a shock and surprise to many people that a hurricane actually came is still a mystery to me. Nevertheless, most Long Beach residents decided to weather the storm when Hurricane Irene hit. And though Irene rolled into Long Beach at peak high tide — with a new moon that created a storm surge — by noon on Aug. 28, hundreds of locals were milling about on the boardwalk, checking out the waves, observing the uprooted Lifeguard Headquarters and talking about the storm’s impact.

While it’s true that numerous homes were flooded and damaged, and there were people without electricity for days, I have yet to hear of a single person expressing a desire to move out of Long Beach because of the storm. Residents, in typical fashion, took the hurricane in stride. After all, we had invited the world into our town for an event that began a week later, and we aren't the type to let some saltwater get in the way of our hospitality.

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