Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Sun, May 14 2006

Huntington Beach gets bragging rights—but it's okay

It seems that the title "Surf City USA" has finally been granted to Huntington Beach, in the form of trademarked registration numbers. I do find it rather telling that most Santa Cruz County locals seem to be taking it all in stride now. The sly smiles and knowing looks display what no trademark can. Huntington Beach may now claim its title with pomp and circumstance. Merchants can sell beach bags and hats to the thousands of tourists who will flock to their doors for a souvenir from beautifu, sunny Surf City USA. They'll rake in the dollars and the city will benefit from the sales tax and recognition as they print their brochures and produce promotional videos full of fun, sun and beautiful people surfing in the latest swimwear. It's going to be a great thing for Huntington Beach.

Santa Cruz area surfers know what they have, and so do other locals. The waves here are full of wet-suited, sometimes politically incorrect, gutsy surfers who come to the early morning gathering not because of, but in spite of, tourist boards and tax revenues. If you catch a glimpse of them on most mornings, you almost feel like a voyeur. They are not pop-culture surfers posing for your vacation camera. They would be on those waves if we didn't watch at all. They might even be having more fun if we weren't watching.

The benefits of the rogue reputation that the Santa Cruz surfers have acquired over time will stand up very nicely against the colorful beach bags with logos from Surf City USA. Surfers know what it is to be here. The stories that come out of Santa Cruz beaches aren't always pretty and they're not always touted on some glossy brochure. But they're real.

Tourists who flock to Huntington Beach will probably get just what they want. But so will Santa Cruz locals and Santa Cruz surfers. A little friendly ongoing rivalry would have been fun, but the pronouncement of Huntington Beach as Surf City USA may actually underscore Santa Cruz significance. No one would ever really be able to capture this area's spirit by silkscreening logos onto water bottles and fanny packs.

posted at: 10:13 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

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