Long Beach City officials have cancelled an eight-day music festival that was set to kick off over Labor Day weekend but the Quiksilver Pro New York Surf Competition will be held despite storm damage in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
“We really have to concentrate on getting this city back on its feet, and it was just to much,” Long Beach City Manager Charles Theofan told the Press outside city hall on Tuesday. “But we’re very happy were still doing the surfing tournament and that’s really what’s its all about.”
Quiksilver said in a statement that it is working with the city and is committed to the event despite the developments that have dissapointed the local surfing community.
“The situation has been changing daily, and we recognize that city resources are focused on hurricane restoration and clean up as first priority,” the surf apparell company said in a statement. “The Quiksilver Pro NY is first and foremost about the surf contest and Long Beach has an incredible surfing tradition and spirit.”
The Association of Surfing Professionals contest is the first on the East Coast and features Quiksilver’s first-ever $1 million prize purse. Bands such as The Flaming Lips, Taking Back Sunday and Interpol were slated to headline free concerts at a festival site adjacent to the boardwalk. It is the third major music festival this month to be cancelled on Long Island.
The music was canned after the powerful storm last weekend flooded parts of the city, including the Allegria Hotel where many of those involved in the event are booked to stay. The lifeguard headquarters centered in the middle of the action was washed into the boardwalk by the storm surge.
The Quiksilver Pro Trials will now run on Sunday, Sept. 4, instead of starting on Thursday, Sept. 1. Sixteen surfers from around the world, including Leif Engstrom from Montauk, are slated to compete for the second of two wildcards to surf against 34 of the world’s best in the 11-stop world tour that concludes in Hawaii in December, where the 2011 world champion will be named.
Balaram Stack, 19, of Long Beach, was named an automatic wildcard.
The Quiksilver Pro is scheduled to start its 11-day “holding period” on Monday, Sept. 5, with the contest being held on the best four days of sizable surf between then and Sept. 15.
Out of more than 270,000 homes and businesses without power on Long Island as of Tuesday, 3,200 are in Long Beach.
“It could’ve been much, much, much worse but still it was a very major weather event,” Theofan said. “I think any thinking and reasonable person that saw what this city went through understands perfectly.”