Long Beach’s famous lifeguard tower that burned in a fire last month is planned to be replaced by mid-May in time for the annual Pride festival, according to fire officials.
Marine Safety Chief for the Long Beach Fire Department Gonzalo Medina said the new tower will cost around $55,000 and be covered through the city’s Tidelands Operating Fund that primarily covers the Marine Safety Division.
“The tower should arrive by mid-May, either the second or third week in May,” Medina said. Definitely, the goal is to have it here before Pride.”
According to Medina, a surveyor lifeguard tower company called Industrial Design Research will be building the replacement tower for the city. Though the construction process normally takes between six and eight months, Medina said, this tower is likely to be finished much sooner.
“They’re really going out of their way to try and move us to the front and get it to us promptly because they want to support the city and everything [the tower] represents,” Medina said.
Ellie Perez, photographer and social media manager for Visit Gay Long Beach, said it was “shocking” that “people were so moved by hatred that they would burn down a symbol like that.” As someone who moved to Long Beach “because of the amazing LBGTQ community” and diversity, she felt pleased with the city’s response and the community’s support.
“I think that it was really awesome that the community did come together and publicly denounced that this is not okay, we’re not going to tolerate this and we are going to rebuild it in a bigger, brighter, more glitter and all of that,” Perez said.
Perez said she values the symbolism in having a public image of the rainbow flag displayed on the beach.
“For me, it’s a big statement of inclusion. Having that lifeguard tower that way on our beaches, it means the city does stand with us,” Perez said. “It’s not just out of their lips, it is a visual representation.”
Medina said he was surprised by the phone calls from people “sharing what it meant to them on a personal level” by having the Pride tower in the city.
“That’s the biggest surprise about the whole thing. To us, we painted the tower and the idea came from our staff,” Medina said. “We never imagined what it meant to everyone else who runs by it, walks by it. It really took on a life of its own.”
Medina said the fire department is unable to release any further information as the investigation remains ongoing at this time.