The effect of the public health crisis on Downtown Long Beach was sudden and stunning; entertainment venues went silent, business ground to a halt, and bustling streets became eerily deserted. Soon, though, a plethora of supportive and charitable activities began to flourish Downtown, fueled by a sense of community solidarity.
Perhaps the most visible act of support and solidarity in Downtown takes place every night at 8 p.m., when residents take to their windows and balconies for a two-minute tribute to frontline workers. Joe Harding, Manager of the iconic Lafayette Building in the East Village, encouraged residents of his building to participate in the nightly tribute after watching videos of the Italians paying homage during their quarantine.
“It started off as just clapping,” said Harding, “and it grew from there. Now we have flashing lights, singing, chanting, even drumbeats. We’re showing support for medical professionals, police and fire departments, grocery store clerks . . . everyone on the front line.”
On the evening of April 9, major buildings and sites in Downtown Long Beach were bathed in blue light as part of the “Light It Blue” campaign, a tribute to health care and essential service workers that took place across the nation.
As medical frontline workers emerged as tireless heroes of the COVID-19 crisis, stories began to emerge about donations and acts of gratitude to thank them. For example, Downtown restaurants Arize Bistro and Burger Daddy donated meals to the DLBA Clean and Safe Team and Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center workers, respectively. Arize owner Ronnavit Varin and Burger Daddy proprietor John Bower cited similar reasons for making the donations, highlighting the importance of their work in taking care of the sick and of Downtown streets, and a desire to give back.
Portuguese Bend Distillery found itself in a prime position to contribute on a significant scale. After converting its alcohol manufacturing operation into a sanitizer factory, the Distillery was besieged with requests for its simple, effective sanitizer. Portuguese Bend is currently supplying sanitizer for over 50 government, military, and private and non-profit organizations, including DLBA’s Clean and Safe Team.
Throughout the crisis, DLBA has remained active and connected. After being alerted during a Long Beach Health & Human Services Department conference call that The Children’s Clinic was in need of sanitizer and masks, DLBA donated a portion of its sanitizer acquired from Portuguese Bend and identified a stakeholder looking to donate reusable masks both of which were delivered early last week. Additionally, DLBA Safety Ambassadors teamed up with Long Beach Coffee and Tea to distribute masks for those experiencing homelessness in Downtown.
In a situation where isolation is mandated, the people of Downtown Long Beach continue to find ways to connect with and support each other, and to stay connected in positivity and hope. Through our #WeAreDTLB campaign, DLBA will continue to share these stories of community charity and solidarity to uplift and inspire the community.