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A City's Beach Birthday Blowout

Newport, 100 years old, caps a year of events with a pier-to-pier party featuring a surf music legend, fireworks and a carnival atmosphere.

October 09, 2006|Garrett Therolf | Times Staff Writer

People from all walks of life -- computer technicians on motorcycles, investment bankers in flip-flops, and soccer moms on bicycles -- converged Sunday on Newport Beach's shore for a final blowout to celebrate the city's 100th birthday.

The estimated 30,000 people walked and biked to attractions between the Newport and Balboa piers, including live music, carnival jump houses, political campaign tables and Ski the Bird Man.

"I'm a legend in this city, you know that?" said Ski, a 30-year resident who then plucked one of his tropical birds from his motorized cart and put it on a boy's head. "And today is a day for legends."

Indeed, capping a year of festivities celebrating one of the region's most celebrated cities, the event was a 6 1/2 -hour extravaganza featuring, among other things, fireworks off two piers and a performance by legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale at the foot of the Balboa Pier.

"It's just a great day," said resident Craig Teger, 60. "I mean, look at all the girls."

The street festival also paid multiple tributes to the city's historic institutions, including Newport Elementary School, which was founded in 1894, before Pacific Electric Railroad established the railroad to Los Angeles in 1905 and the city incorporated in 1906.

A makeshift display at the school showed photos dating to the city's founding, and many festival-goers stopped to view them as they walked from one pier to the other.

And back at Newport Pier, Ski, in a Hawaiian shirt with his beard tied into two ponytails, drew an equally large crowd wanting to take pictures with Chi Chi, Rojo, and Fireball -- Amazonian jungle species.

After each picture, Ski asked his guests for a dollar and showed them a vicious bite on his finger from one of the birds. Then he slipped off the trick finger for a laugh.

"Works every time," Ski said.


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