The Long Beach Elks Lodge will take over the operation of Long Beach Loyalty Days, keeping the historic parade running after a week of uncertainty.
On the weekend of Jan. 3, a post on the Long Beach Loyalty Days Foundation Facebook page announced that the festivities would be canceled. The Facebook page has since been taken down, and attempts to reach the foundation were not successful.
The first Loyalty Day was in 1950 to celebrate patriotism. Long Beach’s typically includes a weekend of events like floats, a parade, blessing boat fleets, food and speeches. This year’s festival takes place May 3-4.
David Glasson, Long Beach city administrator, said the city received a letter on Jan. 3 saying that the Long Beach Loyalty Days Foundation would not organize the 2020 event and that the foundation would be dissolved.
Glasson said while the city helped set up the event, the private foundation did the heavy lifting.
“We’d like to keep that tradition going, but it’s the community’s thing,” Glasson said.
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Karla Jensen, president of the Long Beach Merchants Association and owner of Mermaid Inn and RV Park, said she and a few other community members are trying to organize volunteers. They had also worked to find a group willing to take over the parade. On Jan. 10, the Elks Lodge stepped up to take control, she said.
“This is supposed to be the 70th year of this event, which is the longest running loyalty days parade in United States,” Jensen said. “It’s a pillar in our community. People here remember walking in the very first parade, so how do you get rid of that?”
Jensen said the merchant’s association had already agreed to fund the fireworks, but they also organize the razor clam festival and didn’t have the time to organize the entire Loyalty Days event.
“It will be with our help, but we can’t do it all,” Jensen said. “We need someone to be the frontrunners, and we’ll assist.”
Jensen is also looking for volunteers, both to help organize the event and to volunteer the day of the event. Anyone interested should contact the Long Beach Merchants Association or the Elks Lodge.
“We are just seeing what we can do, on our part, to help be that staple in the community,” Jensen said.