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Pride lifeguard tower replaces burnt out tower in Long Beach

When Long Beach resident Rich Charley learned on the morning of March 23 that the town’s Rainbow Rescue Tower had been destroyed in a fire, he decided to see the smoky skeletal remains for himself. .

“It touched me personally because I’m a gay vet, and of all places, gay life is[guard] the tower is completely burnt down, ”he said.

But the community reacted quickly and, Thursday afternoon, Charley was among dozens of people gathered at Shoreline Way and in 12th place for the festive unveiling of a new tower. It was painted by city lifeguards, just like the first one was painted last June in honor of LGBTQ pride month.

People waving pride flags cheered as an inflated blue tarp dragged from the brightly colored tower and a red life-saving canister hung on its deck – signaling it was on business.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said the first tower gave him an immediate sense of inclusion.

“As a gay person, as a queer person, seeing that makes you feel welcome and supported,” he said.

Firefighters responded to the March blaze just before midnight. The cause of the blaze, which has been classified as arson, is still under investigation and the city’s fire department has asked witnesses or people with video of the fire. incident to manifest.

“To date, we have no information that would indicate this is a hate crime,” said department spokesman Brian Fisk. “During the investigation, that may change.”

Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to paint a lifeguard tower in Hermosa Beach in the colors of the rainbow in solidarity. In Long Beach, City Councilor Cindy Allen will lead a committee tasked with developing ideas to improve the new lifeguard tower with more ways to show LGBTQ pride.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Ray Ramirez, 71, a resident of Long Beach, said that while the fire had been a disturbing reminder that “there was still a lot of work to be done” for LGBTQ equality, the unveiling gave him hope.

“Now we are here, resurrected,” he said. “The idea that here on this promenade where people walk, ride, run, [there’s] something so visual to remind people that we exist as members of the community.

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