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Despite Petition Drive, Music Dies

Residents can't save festival portion of surfing event.

In just over a day, Long Beach residents collected 750 signatures on a petition urging the city to scrap plans to cancel the festival portion of the surfing extravaganza, but it still may not be enough to save the music.

Businesses leaders and residents were scrambling late this week to come up with ideas to continue the festival portion of the Quiksilver Pro New York surfing contest in the wake of Hurricane Irene. But it may be too late, they were told.

Michael Kerr, president of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, met with City Manager Charles Theofan on Friday morning to come up with a possible alternative this weekend. Kerr suggested bringing in the city’s portable bandstand at National Boulevard and drawing local bands to perform.

“I understand that the city has had a lot to overcome this week, but we have to be resilient,” Kerr said. “We went through 9/11 and New Yorkers responded and rebounded. A lot of people are looking forward to the concerts and they will not have them.

“We have to rise above it all,” he added. “We want to have a festive atmosphere.”

The surfing event, which runs from Sept. 4-15, was expected to draw 20,000 to 25,000 spectators each day and be a big boost for local businesses. The music festival and other side events such as skateboarding were expected to add to the huge draws.

“I want my merchants to be able to survive,” said Kerr. “I want them to do well these two weeks to bring them through what could be a rough winter. We’ve got to do whatever we can to make it more festive.”

It would also help local shops make up for the havoc wreaked by the hurricane on the region.

After Quiksilver and Theofan agreed to cancel the festival portion on Tuesday,  Jason Alegria and Frank Caputo launched a petition drive in a last-ditch effort to save the festival.

They began the drive on Wednesday morning and by 1 p.m. on Thursday delivered a petition bearing 750 hand-written signatures to Theofan. Alegria said the signatures were all from Long Beach residents, business owners, managers and employees.

“We all support the continuation of the festival and the music portion of the 2011 Quiksilver Pro,” said Alegria, who works in a local cafe. “Even though many have been affected by the storm, the festival is a great way for the city to recover.”

Before the hurricane struck, such groups as Flaming Lips, Taking Back Sunday and Interpol were scheduled to perform.

But when Alegria and Caputo met with Theofan on Thursday, they were told it was too late to put together any musical acts.

In an open letter to the community on Tuesday, Theofan wrote that almost 4,000 residents were still without power and could remain out until Sunday, more than 30 trees were downed throughout the community, the Long Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road possibly won’t run for three more days, and residents were still suffering from a storm that caused major damage.

Theofan did not return a call for comment on Friday.

Alegria said he was extremely disappointed that time was running out.

“I would have liked them not to have cancelled it so quickly,” said Alegria. “I would have liked to see them salvage any portion of the festival. I would have liked to have seen logistically what they could have done, and not to have it all or nothing.”


Stacy Laran September 03, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Theofan is very good at spitting out lies..when can we have him recalled?
paul.d.spellman September 03, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Stacy, When we can do that would depend on the how long it would take the to modify the city charter to change his position from one that serves at the discretion of the city council to a position that can be recalled. Of course we would probably need to elect him to the new position first before we can begin the recall process.
paul.d.spellman September 03, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Stacy, I have an even better idea... We could get a local graphic designer to create and sell us some tshirts calling for the recall..... What do you think about that?
True Colors Shining Through September 03, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Do you mean recalled from the human race Stacy? Anyway, good try guys. Although the petition did not yield the result you hoped, you took a shot and got active in community affairs. The process will serve you well in the future and if you should ever become an elected officia just take a close look at what is running Long Beach now and never be like them no matter how tempting it will be once the wolves, lobbyists and other vermin are at your door.
Lisbeth September 03, 2011 at 05:14 PM
He's not even elected, unfortunately, he was hired. I know him personally, and he is not a good person. All these people care about is getting a paycheck, and as long as they get that, they don't care about anything else. Politics and personality do not necessarily go hand in hand, but in his case they go together very well. It would be nice if we had someone to relate to the people of Long Beach, lives here (that would make sense wouldn't it), and genuinely cares about the city. We don't have that now.
Shlomo_Jackson September 03, 2011 at 05:57 PM
. Better luck Next Year. .
R Gregor September 03, 2011 at 06:03 PM
I don't see all of your efforts gone to waste. You people should be commended on your hard work and dedication in trying to right this situation. What I see is that you now have together a block of 750 votes for the next election , and as most everyone knows elections in this town are won or lost on 90 or less votes. I guess this might mean goodbye to certain elected and appointed positions in our city.
Baghdad Bob September 03, 2011 at 06:37 PM
I have found the real reason why Theofan is so hostile towards the surfing competition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLEjr4eg8rA
Lloyd September 03, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Its a shame what has happened to the Quicksilver Festival. It seems that the City politicians are screwing up this one to for their own self serving purposes. Instead of showing the nation how resiliant weer are, we are showing how we wimped out because of a storm that wasn't nearly as bad as the doomsayers predicted. If sympathize for all those hard working people who put up a lot of their time and money for these next two weeks and will not reap the rewards they deserve.
HP September 03, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Jason Alegria, Frank Caputo and Mike Camhi, THANK YOU for springing into action and getting so many signatures in such a short time! Let's hope for great surf from H. Katia and support music at the Allegria or where ever people put it on. And, we know what to do in November.
Gerald Cymbalsky September 04, 2011 at 12:25 AM
Yea, Charlie don't surf!
Lucy Centeno September 04, 2011 at 01:51 PM
I am so glad that the next generation stepped up. They are NOT afraid to do what they think is right. Better people than our city cowardly leaders. The shame brought to LB by these people, needs to be quashed and I hope we can do it in November and start a new.

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