Iconic rainbow lifeguard tower rebuilt ‘better and brighter’ after sick vandals torched original in ‘act of hate’

LGBT rainbow lifeguard tower Long Beach California

Long Beach’s iconic rainbow lifeguard tower has been reborn after the original was burned down in March by vandals.

Hundreds of people showed up at the unveiling ceremony for the new tower on Thursday (10 June) in Long Beach, California, according to local news outlet KABC. Robert Garcia, the city’s first openly gay mayor, said the new tower provides an “immediate sense of pride and inclusion” for the city’s LGBT+ community.

“As a gay person, as a queer person, seeing that just makes you feel welcome and supported,” Garcia said. “And as mayor of this community, I was just really proud.”

The original tower was painted in Pride colours by LGBT+ members of the city’s Marine Safety Division in 2020. But it went up in flames during the night of 22 March, and by the next morning, the tower was reduced to ashes.

KABC said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it’s been classified as arson.

Garcia vowed at the time to rebuild the tower “better and brighter”. He said in a post on Twitter that there was “little doubt” in his mind that the fire “was an act of hate”.

Garcia also posted a picture of the new tower on Twitter after it was unveiled. He thanked the “community and lifeguards” for creating this “symbol of love and inclusion”. Garcia also wished everyone a “Happy Pride“.

Ray Ramirez, a Long Beach resident, told the LA Times that the lifeguard tower fire served as a reminder that “there’s still a lot of work to do” to bring about LGBT+ equality in the area. But he said the unveiling of the new tower gave him hope for the future.

“Now, we’re here, resurrected,” Ramirez said. “The idea that here on this promenade where people walk, ride, run [there’s] something so visual to remind people that we exist as part of the community.”

KABC reported that city officials are working to add a plaque, a space near the tower for events and even a pathway for wheelchairs near the new rainbow lifeguard tower.