Ceremony held at Grand Boulevard Saturday before structure is demolished in coming weeks.
Historian Roberta Fiore recalled the names of celebrities from decades
past the visited or performed on the Long Beach boardwalk: Fred Astaire,
Charlie Chaplin, Isadora Duncan and Clyde Ziegfeld.
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“Rudolph Valentino danced on the boardwalk in 1928,” Fiore told more
than a thousand people that attended ceremony
to commemorate the
Hurricane Sandy-battered boardwalk Saturday morning at Grand Boulevard, before
the structure is demolished in coming weeks.
Among Fiore’s stories was one about two elephants, Roger and Alice, that
were taken to the barrier island from Coney Island as part of a publicity stunt
to promote the boardwalk when it was under construction in 1907.
you look at this boardwalk, let these memories and this history talk to you,”
she said. “We have a proud future but we had a very colorful and interesting
Like Fiore, other city residents and local officials who addressed the
crowd remembered the iconic wooden walkway fondly but also struck an optimistic
tone for the new boardwalk to come.
Resident Colleen Quinn read a poem by her brother Patrick, a Long Beach
High School alum who moved to California, which he wrote from the perspective
of the boardwalk and touched on everything from summer concerts to Polar Bear
splashes to drinking beers underneath the walkway.
“I tried to hold back the raging storm/Tried to protect you from all the
harm/I did it for Gloria, Felix, Irene/The dunes and I kept things mostly
serene/I hope this would just be another storm winter age/But I failed you and
now it is I who is splintered.”
Harvey Weisenberg, who has lived in the city since 1934, likened the boardwalk
to an extended family and called it a symbol of love and happiness, while
Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford, who resides in the West End, recalled
taking her young daughter to a Ferris wheel that still stood along the
boardwalk when she moved to the city in 1980.
Council member John McLaughlin found it ironic that his first kiss was under
Grand Boulevard boardwalk and that he first turned on a wave while surfing on
we’ll be able to build a newer, a better boardwalk,” McLaughlin said. “It won’t
have the same memories. It won’t be the same thing. But change is something
that comes with any tragedy.”
Both City Manager Jack Schnirman and Council Vice President Scott Mandel
vowed to rebuild “strong, smarter and safer,” the three-word phrase that has
become the city’s mantra after Sandy struck in October.
is the beginning of the real big comeback and today is the day that was say goodbye
to an old friend and we get ready to rebuild stronger, smarter and safer,” Schnirman
said to open the ceremony.
Following the event, residents took home with them cut-up pieces of the
boardwalk that the city was giving out as souvenirs.
“The boardwalk is the life of surrounding communities, not just long
beach,” said Mike Jerchower, an Oceanside resident and boardwalk-goer. “People
come here from all over the South Shore and all over the country.” RELATED
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