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Press Release: Huntington Beach Settling the Surf City debate through 80-year-old news article
by Shanna mccord
Sentinel staff writer
SANTA CRUZ ' Long before Jan and Dean hit the record charts and way before Jack O'Neill thought about keeping surfers warm with neoprene, a group of vacuum cleaner salesmen were enjoying time in "Surf City" ' nearly 80 years ago.

That's according to a Nov. 13, 1927 article in the San Jose Mercury Herald, which contains what may be the earliest reference to Santa Cruz as Surf City and, according to some politicians and businessmen, casts new light in the debate over whether Santa Cruz should hold the claim of Surf City or rival surf town Huntington Beach.

The tattered article was recently uncovered in the dusty archives of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

"It's now the smoking gun and evidence of who was the original Surf City," said Marq Lipton, vice president of sales and marketing for the Seaside Co., which owns the Boardwalk. "It should lay to rest once and for all that Santa Cruz is Surf City."

The battle over the title of Surf City, fueled through the media, has been raging between Santa Cruz and Huntington Beach since earlier this year when the Southern California beach town filed a federal application to patent the right to exclusively use "Surf City U.S.A."

Santa Cruz officials were angered by the patent, saying it could jeopardize businesses here that include Surf City in their title, such as Surf City Coffee Co. in Aptos and Surf City Produce in Santa Cruz.

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto ' protecting his turf, which includes Santa Cruz ' created a state resolution in August that declares Santa Cruz the nation's true "Surf City." The resolution passed the Senate Rules Committee and awaits a vote by the full Legislature, which is expected in January.


Jeff Frandy, vice president of Surf City Coffee Co., believes the 80-year-old article should be the final word.

This area, he said, deserves the Surf City title.

"I think there are more people per capita here who surf," Frandy said. "I think of Southern California as a huge, disgusting, smoggy city with Disneyland."

The Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council doesn't use the Surf City moniker when promoting the area because the beaches here do it on their own, said spokeswoman Christina Glynn.

"Wherever the waves are good and you're feeling in the mood to enjoy the surroundings, that's where Surf City is," she said.

Doug Traub, president and chief executive officer of the Huntington Beach visitors bureau, has said Jan and Dean sang their hit "Surf City" with Huntington Beach in mind, and that the area is home to nicer, more consistent waves than Santa Cruz.

Traub could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Huntington Beach plans to slap "Surf City" on everything from bumper stickers to T-shirts to promote the town as a premier vacation destination.

The 1927 article was discovered in a leather-bound album while Boardwalk employees were hunting for materials to use in a book to be published in honor of the amusement park's 100th birthday in 2007.

Contact Shanna McCord at