While Long Beach survived Hurricane Irene, the festival portion of the Quiksilver Pro New York surf competition didn’t.
Quiksilver organizers and city officials met Tuesday morning and decided to keep the surfing competition, originally set to start on Sept. 1, but to nix the festival that was to include skateboard, motocross and music events.
Quiksilver and the city released a joint statement that the festival was canceled due to the impact of Hurricane Irene on Long Beach, “and concerns for the Long Beach community, which suffered significant damage from the storm.”
“The situation has been changing daily, and we recognize that city resources are focused on hurricane restoration and clean up as first priority,” the statement continued. “In that context, we have been informed by the city that the festival and music components of the event are no longer achievable.”
Under the new schedule, the surfing trials have been pushed back from Sept. 1 to Sept 4., and the competition will start on Labor Day, Sept. 5, with four competition meets to be held over an 11-day window.
“In light of the hurricane, city officials had concernes about public safety,” Mike Matey, Quiksilver’s vice president of marketing, told Patch after Tuesday’s meeting.
Dave Juan, co-owner of Unsound Surf, a surf shop in Long Beach that is sponsoring the trials, attended the meeting with his attorney Michael Flynn.
“The city probably canceled it because all of New York State is in turmoil and we’re concerned about having a celebration at this time,” Juan said.
Juan had planned to protest the city’s decision on Tuesday, and a crowd of about 50 people showed up at City Hall at 9 a.m. The crowd expected an announcement about the decision on the boardwalk and gathered at National Boulevard Beach, the site of the surf competition, at 10 a.m. The statement was posted on the city and Quiksilver websites instead.
Council members Michael Fagen, Len Torres and John McLaughlin were at the boardwalk.
Said Torres about the decision, “It’s easy to say now that they canceled it because of the hurricane, but that’s just an excuse.”
Fagen and Torres both said they were unaware of Tuesday morning’s meeting.
“Forty percent of the city council was not aware and so the community is always left in the dark as well,” Fagen said.
But McLaughlin said that there was not a city council vote on the decision. “This decision was all up to the city manger and Quiksilver,” McLaughlin said. “They were responsible for the decision, not the city council.”
Among others who gathered on the boardwalk were Long Beach business owners, including Carlos Ferreiro, a founder of NY Threads, a men’s clothing store on East Park Avenue. Ferreiro predicts that the scaled-back event will devastate businesses that were anticipating a boom during the competition's original 15-day duration.
“The town has a benefit for every sickness,” he said. “This was going to be our benefit and they pulled it out from under us.”
Ferreiro said has committed a lot to advertising and stacked up merchandise “to the gills” for the event, particularly the festival portion of it.
Justine Champlin, owner of Carlton & Dayne, a gift and souvenir shop on East Park Avenue, said she cashed out her 401K to prepare merchandise specifically for the event.
“Without the festivities going on, I’ll be stuck with all these products,” Champlin said.
Dawn Tagliagambe, a realtor with Prudential Douglas Elliman on West Park Avenue, was disappointed with the decision.
“Real estate people were anticipating people moving here after coming to Long Beach, owners and renters,” she said. “And it would help people who were trying to sell.”
Others decided that the city made the correct decision in scaling back the event.
Will Hallett, a Long Beach resident and a Webmaster of regional surf site nynjsurf.com who helped organize the protest using social media, ultimately concluded that common sense prevailed.
“The city manager listened to the people of the City of Long Beach and did the right thing,” Hallett said.