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Commentary: Huntington's summer of discontent

September 10, 2013|By Andrea Roberson

What a weird summer.

The end of August and the first few weeks in September are typically the warmest in Huntington Beach, and these past few days have been no exception.

It's the best time for locals to enjoy the miles of coastline before the kids go back to school. All the tourists have returned home, and once again Main Street is tolerable after the craziness of the Fourth of July and the U.S. Open of Surfing. But something has changed in Huntington Beach. What happened to us this summer?

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Huntington is a city based on tradition and for that we are proud. We are known for having the largest Fourth of July parade west of the Mississippi and also for the illicit activities that generally follow.

This year certain fireworks were deemed legal on a trial basis, but it was the explosives that were disturbing well into the wee hours of the next morning. These terrified cats, dogs and people. The sound was like that of a war zone, not a celebration of independence.

Even stranger was the lack of police presence this year. Officers seemed to have vanished on a night that residents needed to feel secure. Weird.

With the new and improved sponsor of the U.S. Open of Surfing, locals were anticipating a more family-friendly event. It was anything but. It's a shame officials didn't do their homework. By axing one of Huntington Beach's treasured traditions, Rockin' Fig, the beloved announcer of what would have been his 20th year as the "voice of the U.S. Open of Surfing," they angered the locals, big time.

Unfortunately, it went straight downhill after that. Rioting broke out, and I doubt we will ever be the same again. It still is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch footage of strangers destroying our city.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the City Council demonstrated a lack of leadership. A special meeting was called, and the downtown small-business owners, along with residents and their families, came forth to express their horror over the events of July 28. All hoped for a solution to prevent this disaster from happening again.

Instead they were treated as whiners by a noticeably bored panel of city officials who concluded the meeting with their own comments. Councilwoman Jill Hardy talked about her trip to the beach with her daughter. Other council members seemed detached and confused. Were they genuinely surprised that history repeated itself?

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