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With Quiksilver Pro N.Y., Long Beach finds its identity
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A surfer observed the waves during the Quik Pro N.Y. in Long Beach last week.

Yet what happened after the storm surprised many people: city officials decided that, after months of preparation for such an anticipated international event, it should be canceled because some people were cleaning flooded basements, while others were still without power. The fact that numerous merchants had spent thousands of dollars preparing for this didn't seem to matter. Fortunately, after a strong public outcry, the surf contest, if not the attendant music and action sports festival, went on.

And the end result was nothing short of amazing — thousands of people lined the beach to watch the world's best surfers compete for the largest prize money ever awarded in a surfing contest. Mother Nature gave Long Beach epic waves that had not been seen in years. The wind was perfect and the sun was out. By my estimation, of the thousands of people who lined the beach, more than half were locals. And the word around town is that most people loved the contest. The international surfers raved about the hospitality of the locals, and it appears the contest went off without a single negative incident.

Unfortunately, the contest was not as kind to our local merchants. From most reports, the merchants gained nothing from the crowds, who were mostly concentrated around Quiksilver's surf site and merchandise tent on the beach and the boardwalk. The reason given by city officials to cancel the festival — people cleaning out flooded basements and those still without power — made no sense whatsoever. Bands still ended up playing, but they were local bands. And although they were good, they were nowhere near the caliber of performers — the Flaming Lips, Taking Back Sunday, Interpol, etc. — that people were expecting. Often, the crowds that the local bands attracted could be counted on two hands. Was the water in the basement any less annoying because a local band was playing, rather than one with a national following? For some reason, city officials seemed to think so.

Still, what did come out of this event was an identity for Long Beach that I think many people are comfortable with. While we may not want guests at our homes everyday, once in a while we like to throw a party and show the world our hospitality. The fact that the party comes along with front row seats to an Olympic-type event like the Quiksilver Pro N.Y. makes it all the more appealing. For many of us, this was a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity, and we missed work or school to come down and watch it. To date, I have not heard a single regret about time spent at the contest. It is a shame that some city officials did not think we were resilient enough to handle the full event. They still have a lot to learn about Long Beach residents.

Roy Lester is a longtime Long Beach resident, lifeguard, attorney and a member of the Board of Education.


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Couldn't have said it better!

Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Report this

While I agree with almost everything here - this section is counter to what I've heard first-hand

"Unfortunately, the contest was not as kind to our local merchants. From most reports, the merchants gained nothing from the crowds, who were mostly concentrated around Quiksilver's surf site and merchandise tent on the beach and the boardwalk."

The LB Chamber of Commerce has been making all sorts of claims about business loses, but hasn't substantiated the numbers with anything. Whereas when I've talked directly to business owners in the area, they said they did very well.


Beyond that, totally agree

Monday, September 19, 2011 | Report this

Mr. Lester glosses over the fact, as he states that there "were people without electricity for days." On Monday August 29th there were 4,200 residences and businesses without power. LIPA was telling customers that they could not reasonably expect to have power until the following Sunday. Many of those without power had flooded basements and refrigerators full of rotting food. The bathrooms on the beach were not functioning, and our Ocean Beach Park suffered extensive damage. For those reasons I was compelled to cancel the festival, and only the festival. Mr. Lester is incorrect in stating that public outcry convinced the City to go forward with the surfing event. The surfing event was never in jeopardy.

Leadership means having to make tough decisions, I'm sorry if some people were disappointed but concerns for public health and public safety have priority. Hopefully Mr. Lester will catch the Flaming Lips at another venue.

Charles T. Theofan, City Manager

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Report this
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