Ron Hodges—whose entertainment complex at the corner of Pine Avenue and Broadway includes the Shannon’s on Pine pub, the At the Top nightclub, and a speakeasy—wants Pine to party heartier.
“I just feel like Pine Avenue is slipping away as an entertainment center,” he said. “This is supposed to be the entertainment district in Downtown, yet where’s the evidence that it’s an entertainment district? All of the events have been pulling away,” he said. “I want Pine to be the place where, if you come to Long Beach, where do you go?”
He wants Pine Avenue to be the answer, much as the Gaslamp District is the answer to, “Where do you go in San Diego?” Or the French Quarter, if you find yourself wondering what there is to do in New Orleans.
Toward that end, Hodges hosted the first meeting of the fledgling Downtown Entertainment District Association (DEDA) at Shannon’s last month, and he’s presiding over the group’s second meeting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, again at Shannon’s, 209 Pine Ave.
The Thursday meeting will be open to the public, while the initial meeting on Oct. 18, was open only to invitees, which included business owners along Pine. “We had about 30 to 35 people here,” Hodges said. “Pretty much all the main players in the area, as well as representatives from both of our council members (Jeannine Pearce from District 2 and Lena Gonzalez from District 1).”
Among the events Pine has lost in recent years, as cited by Hodges, are New Year’s Eve’s Party on Pine, the Grand Prix’s Thunder Thursday, Funkfest and the Zombie Walk.
Although he was very critical of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) for moving the New Year’s Eve event off Pine and down by the Rainbow Harbor waterfront—which is where it will remain this Dec. 31—Hodges says, “It’s not a competitive thing with the DLBA. In fact, we want to partner with them for some things.”
DLBA Executive Director Kraig Kojian offered the terse statement, “I didn’t receive an invitation to the meeting, nor have Ron and I had a conversation about it.”
Kojian explained last year that the New Year’s Eve Party on Pine was changed to a more family-style affair that included an early celebration for the new year at 9 p.m., keyed to the Times Square bash, because the Pine celebration costs too much. Hodges insists that Pine, Downtown Long Beach’s Main Street, itself is and should be the main draw, with its array of restaurants and bars. “I don’t think you need headliner bands to do a New Year’s Eve party,” he said.
“I really wanted to get DEDA started earlier,” said Hodges. “But I just couldn’t get around to it, but people kept saying, ‘Come on, let’s do it,’ so we’re doing it.”
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