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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Town Picks Surf City as Nickname

Grab your beach towel. And tell Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello to hurry back.

Huntington Beach has finally made it official: It’s hanging 10 as “Surf City.”

After a month of haggling, the City Council on Monday night agreed that Surf City is a good nickname for marketing the community. By a 6-1 vote, the council appropriated $2,500 to copyright the name. City officials said they even foresee merchandising a line of Surf City beach clothes and accessories.

“The media have been calling us Surf City for years,” noted Ron Hagan, the city’s director of community services. “The media like to write about Surf City. We can capitalize on that exposure.”

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Hagan has been the driving force behind the move to market Huntington Beach, both statewide and nationally, using the Surf City nickname.

In a recent memo to the council, Hagan said: “The city is in transition from being an oil/agricultural community to a major visitor-destination--dependent upon sales tax revenue which must attract people not only from Orange County but also nationally. In order to do this . . . the city can orchestrate the very theme that has created its image and use it to gain national exposure. . . .”

But last month, when Hagan first proposed Surf City, he was met with a wipeout. Councilman Don MacAllister worried aloud that people might think Huntington Beach was only for surfers.

And Councilman Jack Kelly, a former movie and TV actor, said he didn’t want the city to be carried away by the “glitz” of the Surf City concept. The council thus voted to delay action on the proposal for a month.

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On Monday night Kelly said he still had worries about the proposed nickname. “I don’t think there’s sufficient support for it in the community,” Kelly said.

But Mayor Peter M. Green said he thought Surf City was a great idea. Green said that on recent trips to Sacramento and Washington, area lawmakers became very enthusiastic over Huntington Beach’s Surf City marketing plan.

MacAllister on Monday night also said he had been won over by the proposal. Kelly cast the lone opposing vote.

Hagan repeatedly stressed that the council’s action does not change the Huntington Beach’s official name, official logo, official motto (“The City of Expanding Horizons”) or anything else historical and official. All it does, Hagan said, is give the city a marketing tool--a colorful nickname that it can copyright and merchandise.

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“This might help the city’s bankroll,” said Councilman Earle Robitaille. “If we can do that, I’m all for it.”


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