Long Beach, CA (December 6, 2023)The Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) is thrilled to announce the establishment of the “Downtown Don Anchor Award,” a new legacy award that recognizes outstanding commitment to the enrichment and advancement of Downtown Long Beach.  

The legacy award is named after and first awarded to Don Darnauer, affectionately known as “Downtown Don,” to celebrate individuals who exemplify resilient leadership, unwavering community advocacy, and significant investment in local businesses and urban centers. This new legacy award will complement the Spirit of Downtown award program that is hosted annually at Celebrate Downtown.  

“Don Darnauer’s journey, from his arrival in Long Beach in 1978 to his transformative impact on the downtown area, is a testament to his patience, persistence, and passion,” said DLBA President & CEO Austin Metoyer. “He embodies the true spirit of this award, and we are proud to honor him as its first recipient. His legacy of fostering community improvements, creating neighborhood associations all around the downtown, driving policy change, and nurturing the heart of our city is inspiring.”  

After retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard and settling in Long Beach, Don Darnauer became a dynamic force in the community, especially during the challenging times of Downtown Long Beach in the early 1990s. His involvement in various community associations, including the Redevelopment Advisory Board, DLBA Board of Directors, and the creation of the Downtown Residential Council, reflects his deep commitment to revitalizing the area and nurturing its growth. 

“Receiving the ‘Downtown Don Anchor Award’ is not just an honor for me, it’s a celebration of our collective spirit in Downtown Long Beach,” said Darnauer. “Community investment is the cornerstone of urban transformation. It’s about more than just infrastructure; it’s about building relationships, nurturing small businesses, and creating a sense of belonging for everyone. Each step we take towards improving our downtown area is a step towards a more vibrant, inclusive, and thriving community. I’m so glad that my continuous focus was volunteerism and always trying to make things better, as it seems to have been effective.” 

Don’s vision and efforts have been crucial in bridging disconnected neighborhoods, establishing key community associations, and fostering a relationship between the city, residents, and businesses. His belief in the power of small businesses and community involvement has been a driving force in the transformation of Downtown Long Beach, leading to a renewed sense of pride and momentum in the area. 

At the celebratory program with community and elected leaders, Don was also commended for his work with Honorary Recognitions from Mayor Rex Richardson, Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, Vice Mayor Cindy Allen, Congressman Robert Garcia, Senator Lena Gonzalez and Assemblyman Josh Lowenthal.  

The “Downtown Don Anchor Award” will continue the legacy of Don Darnauer and be utilized to inspire future generations to contribute to the flourishing of Downtown Long Beach. 


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About the Downtown Long Beach Alliance: DLBA is a non-profit, community-based organization whose mission is to cultivate, preserve and promote a healthy, safe, and prosperous Downtown for all. By balancing the interests of the residents, as well as businesses, the DLBA creates tangible progress by way of vested interest and solidified partnerships across local, municipal, and commercial lines. For additional information, visit www.downtownlongbeach.org, or follow on Facebook @downtownlongbeach, and on X (formerly Twitter) @dlba and Instagram @dlba.