New rainbow lifeguard tower unveiled in celebration after suspected arson of the old one

A crowd of Long Beach residents gathered on the sands of Alamitos Beach to celebrate an unveiling ceremony of a new rainbow-colored lifeguard tower that was installed to replace the original one that was burned down in March.

Onlookers carried LGBTQ+ pride flags, donned jackets with colors of the rainbow and embraced one another as the new tower was unveiled.

The original one was painted to celebrate the community last year, but burned in March. The tower represents the city’s diverse LGBTQ+ community.

Mayor Robert Garcia, the city’s first openly gay mayor, announced shortly after the fire that a new one would be installed. During the unveiling event Thursday, Garcia commented on the struggles members of the LGBTQ+ community often face.

“The fight for equality and equity and justice is not just for our community, but it is a struggle that we share with so many other communities,” Garcia said.

Few details have been released about the intention of the blaze or potential suspects. Long Beach fire investigators have concluded that the fire was arson, adding that the flame was “purposefully set.” A manufacturer of lifeguard towers previously told the Post that the fiberglass material that is usually found in the towers is not easy to burn.

During the event, Garcia and Councilwoman Cindy Allen participated in the ceremonial opening of the tower flaps. Officials also hung a red-colored Rescue Can, a floatation device lifeguards, signifying that the lifeguard tower is in operation. The event acted as a sort of small-scale gay pride event, which attendant Shih-wei Carrasco-Wu said was important for the community.

“For me, this is amazing,” Carrasco-Wu said. “It definitely reaffirms the reason why we moved here in the first place.”

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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