Photo by Justin Rudd from his Facebook post, here, captioned: "I like to take photos, and I take photos of people I like. By the number of pictures I took of Fred over the years (and these are only a few), it may be obvious how much I liked him. That smile was infectious."
The last time I spoke with Fred Khammar was a year and a half ago for an interview about his Long Beach Love Celebration, a two-day festival at Granada Beach that had become an immediate hit within the local community. During that conversation, we figured out that he’d thrown my 16th birthday party approximately 10 years ago at the Alfredo’s Beach Club on the bay, a shack just off Bayshore Avenue in Belmont Shore.
It’s moments like those you realize how tightly knit Long Beach is as a community, even if you were oblivious to it at the time, and that it’s the people like Khammar, the event planners and promoters, the people who enjoy seeing others genuinely happy, that bring us all together.
Khammar passed away on Friday night of a sudden heart attack, according to a friend’s Facebook post. Born on July 1, 1947, Khammar was 69. Once shared, the news spread quickly, with an outpouring of heartfelt posts from friends, family, colleagues and those who experienced his events, writing of the moments they remembered with the local legend.
Image taken from Mutiny Magazine.
Khammar was the owner of Alfredo’s Beach Club, which has become a specialty beach event empire, responsible for some of the city’s most lauded events and locations, such as Moonlight Movies on the Beach, the Tiki Beach Festival, the Pirate Invasion of Belmont Pier, the Great Sand Sculpture Contest and Mom’s Beach House, just to name a few, during the nearly 30 years the Watertown, New York native lived in Long Beach.
Blair Cohn, executive director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, also commented on Khammar’s passing as a fellow mover and shaker of the Long Beach community.
Image taken from Alfredo's Beach Club of the Tiki Beach Festival.
“Always kind, enthusiastic, had that big smile, and sent me notes of encouragement,” wrote Cohn. “He was the first guy to pick me up during a low period. I complimented him on his ever-growing empire and admired him for his hustle. How much more crushing can it get? He was a fixture of the beaches. I will miss him.”
Khammar would often coordinate with the Belmont Shore Business Association (BSBA) to ensure their separate events complimented each other instead of conflicted. His events gave hundreds, maybe thousands, of residents and visitors alike, a reason to use the city’s waveless shores as a place to gather and spend quality time.
Khammar’s Long Beach Love Celebration was a newer endeavor, with its second annual event having taken place in 2015, but similar to his other events, this one was no different in that it had something for everyone. The thread running through every one of his functions was that he wanted anyone and everyone to be able to enjoy them, whether for the music, the booths, the dancing or the drinks, or all of the above.
“And that was the whole object of this thing, was to sprinkle a little bit of Long Beach out here on the beach, where everyone could come and find something that they enjoy doing,” said Khammar in a 2015 interview with the Post. “I just love the fact that I can do this work and see so many people come and enjoy it."
Image taken from Alfredo's Beach Club of the Bayshore Avenue location at 54th Place.
“It’s like he made our hometown a beach town,” said BSBA Executive Director Dede Rossi. “We do events on 2nd Street for the business association, but, just starting the kayaks, the stand-up boards, the beach shack, that brought it all together.”
Kraig Kojian, president and CEO of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA), posted on Facebook that he’d met Khammar 20 years ago when Khammar was working with Bikestation Long Beach and the two organized a bicycling promotion for the downtown area. Khammar was involved in countless areas of making things happen in the city.
“Fred was always smiling, laughing and genuinely cared about how you were doing,” Kojian wrote. “To overstate the obvious, he lived life to the fullest and loved every minute of it.”
“[Fred is] like our George Michael,” said Rossi. “He’s like our rockstar here. And I know a lot of rockstars have died this past year, [but] I feel like he’s our rockstar[...] and that brings it closer to home.”
A memorial will be held at Alfredo’s Beach Club at the Granada location. Once details are available they will be posted on the Alfredo’s Beach Club website here.