PORT HUENEME — With a cloudless sky, 4-foot breakers and the Hueneme Pier as a backdrop, thousands braved the heat Saturday for snow cones and surfer music at the Hueneme Beach Festival.
Participants clad in shorts and tank tops enjoyed children's rides, crafts, community displays and food booths at the festival, begun two years ago to celebrate the city's 50th anniversary.
After skipping a year, the festival is back and bigger than before, spilling onto one lane of Surfside Drive to create room for a children's carnival. City officials say they plan to make it an annual event.
The free festival continues today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hueneme Beach Park, 550 Park Ave.
The beach jam is small compared with some of the county's more established festivals, but it nevertheless suits the town of 23,000, Mayor Murray Rosenbluth said. With many participants arriving by foot from their nearby homes, it had the feel of a surf-side block party.
Matt Bender of the city's Parks and Recreation Department said people were lined up waiting to get in when the gates opened at noon. "There was a buzz about it," he said.
The surf band Banned From the Beach, whose members come from Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley, played instrumental tunes that bass player Michael Nisito described as "reverb-drenched with fast-paced melodies that make you think of the ocean."
It was a great gig, Nisito said, because the band could see the ocean from the stage.
The city used about $30,000 from ads posted on the sides of bus shelters as seed money to sponsor the festival, city officials said. Proceeds from some booths will support such community activities as the Junior Lifeguard Program and the Ray D. Preuter Library.
But most of the participants just came to have fun.
Deborah Williams-Hedges, who brought her 10-year-old daughter, Amber Hedges, and six of Amber's friends, joked that the event was a reward for having endured a power failure that hit Port Hueneme on Friday night.
Several of Amber's friends had blue tongues from sucking on "Sandy Candy," sugar dyed rainbow colors and sold in tubes from one of the booths. Even before all their candy was eaten, the girls were back in line for snow cones.
Colleen Bartlett, 37, of Oxnard came with her three children after her husband--a tow-truck driver--told her about the festival early Saturday, when he was called to the park to jump-start a car.
"He called and said, 'Why don't you bring the kids down,' " Bartlett said. "They love this kind of stuff."
Bartlett bought her husband a SWAT team T-shirt from a booth sponsored by the Oxnard Police Department, while daughters Ashley, 6, and Taylor, 4, petted Levi, a K-9 dog.
Elsewhere, psychic Rebecca Merino of Oxnard took a break from giving $10 readings at her booth to watch passersby.
"It's just very spiritually healing," she said, "being close to the water and feeling the positive vibrations of all these beautiful people."