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Well-Behaved Labor Day Crowds Enjoy Last Splash of Summer

Times Staff Writer

Summer’s last fling--the Labor Day weekend--started Saturday in Orange County with few problems and many colorful activities.

There were big crowds at a surfing contest, a prominent politician at a street festival and thousands of sun seekers blissfully baking themselves under a clear sky.

Traffic throughout most of Orange County was moderate, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Seaside cities, notably Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, were the major traffic headaches, but police radio dispatchers there said no unusual problems cropped up. Newport Beach police had what they call “party teams” of officers patrolling the summer-rental areas of Balboa Peninsula, where near riots broke out on the Fourth of July weekend. No trouble had been reported in the peninsula area by early Saturday night.

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Huntington Beach was hosting an international surfing contest, and there were 70,000 people packed along the mile-long Huntington City Beach on Saturday, according to Lt. Steve Davidson of the city lifeguards.

“There were some tense moments today because police found a lot of people out there drinking,” Davidson said. “There were some arrests, but no mass arrests or anything like that.” Huntington Beach police said they experienced “nothing unusual” in the daylong patrolling of the big crowds.

In Orange, an estimated 150,000 people attended the Saturday phase of the three-day 14th International Street Fair. “We’ve had lots and lots of people in the city today, but no big problems,” said a police spokesman.

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, casually dressed in a beige sport shirt, became the focal celebrity in the huge crowd when he arrived about 3:15 p.m.

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Bradley, the Democratic nominee for governor, was swamped by autograph seekers as he took an hourlong, easygoing stroll through the booth areas of the fair. He had the political turf to himself, as no major Republican dignitaries were in the afternoon crowd, according to the GOP voter-registration booth at the fair.

Bradley’s narrow loss to Republican George Deukmejian in the 1982 gubernatorial election was largely due to Deukmejian’s huge win in Orange County, according to many election analysts. Deukmejian got 415,172 votes in Orange County, compared to only 249,059 for Bradley, who had done little campaigning in the county.

November Strategy

Bradley’s aides said Saturday that they’re not making the same mistake twice. “I’m getting Tom Bradley into Orange County as often as I can because when people meet him, they like him and vote for him,” said his Orange County campaign chairman, Mike Balmages of Tustin.

Elsewhere in the county, crowds were at amusement parks, shopping malls and outdoor recreation areas.

Campgrounds were filled. “We’ve been booked up for two months,” said a park aide at Doheny State Beach. She said crowds were fairly light on Saturday “but that’ll pick up on Sunday and Monday.”

Her comment was echoed by park aide Nancy Gullett at San Onofre State Beach. “We’re all booked up for campers, and the crowds aren’t too bad today,” Gullett said. “Tomorrow and Monday will be the worst.”

Flames at Sea

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At sea, a problem was reported when fire broke out aboard a 34-foot pleasure craft 10 miles off Dana Point on Saturday afternoon, disabling the craft and forcing it to be towed back to dock.

No one was injured in the fire aboard the motor boat Ocean Magic, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jose Rosario. The boat’s captain radioed for help about 12:30 p.m., but the fire was extinguished by the time a Coast Guard vessel arrived, Rosario said.

It was not known how many people were aboard, how the fire started or the extent of the damage, he said. The boat was towed to Dana Point for repairs, he said.

Times staff writer Marcida Dodson contributed to this report.


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