LONG BEACH — The city is throwing a 10-day bash to honor its 100th birthday.
The festivities, which start Friday, will feature free daily outdoor entertainment, a bilingual circus under a blue and white Big Top, a Japanese art exhibit, dance and music groups, foods from around the world, a nuclear aircraft carrier and a team of famous horses prancing around the Promenade.
There will be "birthday candles" befitting a metropolis--a massive fireworks display on the Fourth of July in the vicinity of the Queen Mary.
A monument will be dedicated Friday in honor of the roughly 1,113 U.S. servicemen killed and 2,290 wounded in the battle for Tarawa in the South Pacific during World War II. Veterans are planning to maintain an around-the-clock vigil at the monument for the 10 days.
Months in Planning
Months in the planning, the Long Beach Centennial Citywide Celebration will be the most elaborate production of the city's ongoing centennial program.
The $40,000 birthday blowout will be based on the Promenade, a stretch of sidewalk from Ocean Boulevard to 3rd Street that used to be known as Locust Avenue.
Restaurants and beer gardens will be open daily along the Promenade and many of the daily entertainment events will be held in the amphitheater.
Dick Sargent, president of the International City Celebration, said the festival could show whether the Promenade can attract crowds. The walkway figures prominently in the city's redevelopment plans but is almost always empty now.
"Basically, it is an underlying experiment," he said. "We may fall flat on our face, but it's an inexpensive way to do a survey."
Hopes for Walkers
If 200 or 300 people are strolling on the Promenade at midweek during their lunch hours, the experiment will have been successful, he said.
Roger Anderman, the city's community development director, said the turnout will not affect plans for permanent businesses and other attractions on the Promenade
Among the bigger events, the Public Corp. for the Arts will hold its International City Festival this weekend in the Terrace Theater Plaza, a block north of the Promenade on Ocean Boulevard.
An array of international food booths will offer delicacies ranging from West Indian breaded cauliflower to Vietnamese-style barbecue pork skewers. Hamburgers and other American basics will also be offered.
Thirty performing arts groups will participate in the three-day festival. A "Birthday Party Street Dance" on Saturday evening will feature the nostalgia rock 'n' roll group Lil' Elmo and the Cosmos.
"We've doubled our booths, doubled our displays and added a beer garden," said PCA spokeswoman Kathy Fleming.
A jazz concert in honor of senior citizens will be presented at the festival at noon Monday.
The Tarawa monument will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Friday in the Promenade Amphitheater. Gen. Alfred M. Gray Jr., commandant of the Marine Corps, will preside. The nine-ton structure eventually will replace an earlier monument that had been torn down on the South Pacific atoll.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Nimitz will steam into the Long Beach Naval Shipyard this weekend. The Nimitz will be open for public tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available at Navy recruiting offices in Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Starting Wednesday, the Budweiser Clydesdales will visit the city.
The Long Beach Municipal Band will be holding several performances in city parks during the 10-day celebration period. The shows will be capped by a performance by entertainer Vikki Carr, a Long Beach resident, at 6:30 p.m. July 10 in El Dorado Park.