Thousands Bid Farewell to Iconic Long Beach Boardwalk

Ceremony held at Grand Boulevard Saturday before structure is demolished in coming weeks.

Steven furair and his nephew Anthony Marra watching the ceremony. Credit: Joley Welkowitz
Steven furair and his nephew Anthony Marra watching the ceremony. Credit: Joley Welkowitz
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.

“When 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 past.”

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.”  

Assemblyman 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.

City 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 its beach.

“Hopefully 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.

“Today 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.” 
Tonto Hertzberg January 05, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Did the read the names of the 67 Congress persons that voted NO to paying our FEMA Flood Insurance claims? Not grants but legitimate claims made on insurance policies we have paid into for DECADES? ALL 67 of these bastards are Republicans....................every last Goddamn one of them. Next week these same devils will try to f**k us out of the FEMA money needed to rebuild the boardwalk we are now ripping down. Any Long Beach resident that voted for these monsters should be placed in a mental institution.
Gem Star January 05, 2013 at 03:53 PM
@Wildman... I didn't realize they held a vote. The last I heard, the speaker of the house refused to allow congress to vote on this issue.
Eddie January 05, 2013 at 04:49 PM
They felt pouring another $9 Billion into a Ponzi "insurance scheme" that's already $20 billion in debt without making any reforms wouldn't be a fiduciary use of your money. Aren't you glad someone's watching the pot, or do you just want all you can get, like most Democrats?
wikyjalo January 05, 2013 at 04:52 PM
It was a wonderful ceremony. Loved listening to John McLaughlin's reminiscing of the Boardwalk and the history from Roberta Fiore. Well done, here's to a new and stronger boardwalk.
John January 05, 2013 at 04:57 PM
dear Paul.d.spellman, I counted exactly 1 hourly employee at today's ceremony, though I'm sure more were involved in. setting it up. that said, there seemed to be 3,000 people who thought it a worthwhile endeavor. just sayin.
Nellie January 05, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Lovely ceremony! Thank you for including all of us residents today and not just doing the demolition as if we all didn't need to be there to say good bye to an old friend. My mom pushed all 6 six of her grandchildren in their carriages and I hope to be walking with my grandchildren very soon!
Tonto Hertzberg January 05, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Eddie: Many Long Beach home owners have paid the required insurance premium into the FEMA program for DECADES. The payout these GOP rats voted against is a contractual obligation that is owed us, not some handout. I was a GOP voter for almost all of my voting life up until 2012 when the scumbags lead by Paul Ryan opened my eyes. My vote against these horrible rats was vindicated by what went on in the GOP Congress in the last few days. I feel like Alec Guiness in " The Bridge on the River Kwai" A person that was blinded by some stupid internal moral code that finally wakes up to his wrongheadedness in the end. The monsters in Congress or anywhere else for that matter will never get my vote again. Not for President or dog catcher either for that matter. Any person in Long Beach that votes for these rats are voting against your own family and the future of Long Beach.
Eddie January 05, 2013 at 07:51 PM
..............Wildman, I too am quite disappointed by the Republicans too these days but for other reasons. I suppose I'm a bit more conservative than you. ... ..........How about looking at it this way. Most Democrats vote for thier party because it gives them the most stuff. Phones, food stamps, Section 8, medical, abortions, etc. usually at others' expense. ......... ... Now you, Wildman seem to be angry at the Republicans because they won't give you stuff. ............. You simply sound like one more typical underacheiver who realized that they can vote themselves stuff out of the treasury. ... I understand that you fell for the lie that your flood premiums were some type of legitimate "insurance," but that simply isn't the case. It's welfare, plain and simple. You and I are forced to pay into it, but that's to cover those who don't. No wonder why the scheme is broke ........... ... Nonetheless I feel your pain and share your anger. The difference is that you want government to pay you. I want them to just go away and stop taking from me. .............. Just as information, I spent 30 years as a union member, general chairman and then business owner. I try really hard to understand others' views.
Tonto Hertzberg January 05, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Eddie: The basis of the law is sanctity of a valid contract. I have a contract with the FEMA Flood Insurance Program. For many years I fulfilled my end of the contract by paying the premium they requested in return for their service. Now that I am invoking the terms of the contract , 67 GOP rats decided that they need not abide by that contract. You were a 30 union member and a business owner. At anytime during that period did you let the people on the other side of any contract or business arrangement walk away because the deal no longer worked in their favor? No, I didnt think so.
Tonto Hertzberg January 05, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Another thing. On Jan. 15th, Congress will take up the vote on the additional 58 billion dollars that is needed to fix what is broken in NY and NJ........including the money to build a new boardwalk. The folks that vote GOP in this town better make it clear to the bastards that run the GOP that if that money is not forthcoming then they can forget about your vote for Pete King and every other GOP Congressperson in NY or NJ.that DID vote for the FEMA bill last week. In addition, GOP voters all along the US coast from Texas to Maine will be watching because they know that they could be the next target of these insane GOP ideologues that tried to renege on the FEMA insurance contract when the bill came due. Make no mistake. The upcoming vote is for all the marbles in 2014 and 2016. The damage is already done when it comes to folks like me. Im done with them/ Next up come the longtime GOP voters that were not paying attention but now have been slapped awake by the GOP rats that they put themselves put in office.
Eddie January 05, 2013 at 09:01 PM
You sound like a welfare mother whose ObamaPhone was taken away.
BC January 05, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Eddie- I hardly ever post a statement on the patch. Certain statements you make are well thought out, but now I have to put you in a class with Paul Ryan. Keep drinking the kool-aid and don't start thinking for yourself yet.
Tonto Hertzberg January 05, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Eddie: My last two posts speak for themselves. I made my point and my bet is that it wakes at least a few folks up. I do not expect to change many minds but if only a few former loyal GOP voters come to the same crossroads that i found myself at on November 4, 2012 and chose a different path then these posts will have had an effect. You can call me all the names you like. It does not mean a damn thing. i have paid taxes my entire life and never asked for anything in return but a fair and honest shake. Last week the GOP shoved a knife in the back of every person in Long Beach and they were called on it and backed down. They will get another shot on Jan. 15th and the follks that put them in office better have their heads on a swivel. Before Jan 15th however, you better be on the phone and on the net letting the GOP know that you are watching. Your future is in the balance here along the coast and giving a bunch of redneck GOP louts sway over how Long Beach fares is not in your best interests.
Eddie January 05, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Thanks for the kind words, BC. They are appreciated. I have very mixed feelings about this vote. Neither party is without blame. The Democrats gave us a mandated, overpriced tax and called it flood insurance. But it pays everyone whether they pay into it or not. The Republicans then tried to withhold benefits after we suckers paid the bill and after those who didn't pay a dime got nice payouts. So which party is worse? You tell me. I don't know. But I do know my government id broke, and I'm struggling to keep them out of my pockets. So I don't disagree with Wildman at all. I just don't feel the blame belongs on one side of the aisle. And the media's coverage of the entire subject is biased, ignorant and one sided. Sure I want my flood payment. But I just wish they would let me choose if I wanted their silly Ponzi sceme at all. I chose to buy here and I'd rather just keep my money and fend for myself.
Tonto Hertzberg January 05, 2013 at 10:06 PM
I am a lapsed GOP true believer and thats what makes people like me dangerous. I was a union member that voted for people that hated unions. I was a beach side dweller that voted for people that want to end FEMA. I was a a New Yorker that voted for people that hate New York. i was a person that got along with other races that voted for people that had no use for anyone but their own. I voted that way my whole life..............right up until my whole world view came crashing down with the nomination of Paul Ryan for VP. All at once it hit me. What the hell am I doing voting for these people? I suppose I should have come to this crossroad 30 years ago when The Gipper gutted the union movement but I didnt. In fact, I voted for him in 1984. Well, I am awake now and I am certain other long time GOPers are staggering to their feet as well, with the same realization that I have. I am DONE with siding with people that hate most of what I am and most of what I actually believe.
Ellen A. January 06, 2013 at 02:07 PM
What a beautiful poem by Patrick!
Matt Markell January 06, 2013 at 04:24 PM
I was lucky enough to grow up in Long Beach. My family moved here in 1949, when I was 3. Many of my memories include statements like, "on the boardwalk", "near the boardwalk" or as memorialized in song "under the boadwalk" but we'll leave those stories for another time. Some of my earliest memories are when I would be with my family "on the boardwalk" and my father would say "breathe the fresh air". Then there were the fireworks every Sunday night (during the summer), the Amusement Park (aka The Rides), the Shooting Gallery, games like the Water Gun game, Skeeball, Fascination and who could ever forget Izzy's Knishes? The boardwalk has always been a special place. Even now when it is only used for things like the Arts & Crafts Fair or similar events, walking, running or bike riding, it's still special. It will be rebuilt, I'm glad about that but it will never be the same! Goodbye old friend.
Dan January 06, 2013 at 06:56 PM
The first bill for 60 billion that was put forth in Congress passed the Senate with no problems and bi-partisan. All of a sudden, it gets to the House. Speaker Boehner promised a vote on the bill and he pulled it. Supposedly there was a lot of pork in it but that was not true. So the New York and New Jersey delegations to Congress got on the floor before the end of the session and blasted the crap out of the Speaker Boehner. The person to really blame is Eric Cantor. He is the Rep Majority Leader in the House. He is a tea partyer who thinks that government should not fund any of it. Meanwhile, flood insurance is a federal program. So blame the Republicans in the House for this epic failure of government protecting its citizens.
Pickels January 06, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Ok, we are going to reBuild the boardwalk, great! Now here's an opportunity to do it right so that it lasts, (baring another super-storm). Use better quality boards, use deck screws not nails and seal it against the weather.
water guy January 07, 2013 at 08:33 AM
Matt, year the boardwalk gave us all great memories and I only hope it gets rebuild as I am sure it will , lets just hope it gets done the right way, not some slop ass, half ass way.howdy folks howdy .....
studavis January 07, 2013 at 10:04 AM
You forgot some of the really important people from the Boardwalk history. What about Mrs Seidel (Skeeball) Izzy (Kinishes) Kalin (Custard), Fascination and many others
Matt Markell January 07, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Hey El, Yeah, those were good times. I'm with you about the rebuild. Supposedly they think that they'll be finished by June. It's hard to imagine that it can be rebuilt by then and still do a worthwhile, safe job. Who knows, I could be wrong but knowing LB as we do........................................................
Vicki Heller January 07, 2013 at 01:31 PM
When the Sandy relief bill is loaded with so much "pork" that it makes a mockery of the idea that this bill is for the benefit of those who were affected by the storm, then it is the obligation of right-thinking congressmen to not approve the bill. Besides many millions for non-Sandy related items, the bill included over 13 billion dollars for something like "community related services' having nothing to do with Sandy. So you should be thanking the principled representatives who wouldn't pass the bill. Mike
The real bear January 07, 2013 at 01:55 PM
I heard the reason Governor Christie was so upset was because he thought there was actual pork in the bill and wanted a sandwich.
Matt Markell January 07, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Hey El, Yeah, those were great times. I completely agree with you about the rebuild. Supposedly the City of LB expects to be finished by June. Not what I wanted to hear. It would have been better to say something like, "We will start as soon as possible to build a better boardwalk" and not mention anything about time. If asked just say, "As long as it takes to do it right!". Quality and safety should be paramount. Hopefully, the boardwalk will be around long enough to provide memories for generations to come.
Patrick Smith January 07, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Long beach is a summer town , we need summer dollars
Patrick Smith January 07, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Christys wife makes 500 ,000 a year that a lot of pork , excluding what he make x Goldman Sachs employee . They happen to own the world
Robert Rothman January 08, 2013 at 07:10 AM
Joe, I filmed the ceremony. If you would like it is on my youtube page-longbeachny11561. You can post it on the patch if you would like to. Best, Rob R.
Matt Markell January 08, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Patrick, I'm not arguing to pass up the revenue that the summer brings in, we definitely depend on it but if something is built hastily without safety being a priority and if an accident occurs, it would turn out to be worse than not having a boardwalk at all. Not just the lawsuit that would follow (and you can bet that would happen, and be a big one) but the bad press that it would attract. Think about it.
Hamburger January 08, 2013 at 02:50 PM
beach revenue has a way of not being properly accounted for (but it definitely ends up somewhere)


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