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Event celebrates upcoming yacht race

Kickoff Fiesta spotlights the Balboa Peninsula as it marks the annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race.

April 15, 2014|By Emily Foxhall
  • Cynthia Kostylo, left, and Raziah Roushan complete a portrait as part of the Strada Dell'Arte:Spectacular Chalk Murals during the Newport to Ensenada Race Kickoff Fiesta held Sunday in Balboa Village.
Cynthia Kostylo, left, and Raziah Roushan complete a… (Susan Hoffman,…)

The historic Balboa Village filled with new energy Sunday afternoon, as business owners gathered under white tents to offer passersby everything from lobster rolls to boating artwork.

The event, called a Kickoff Fiesta, celebrated the upcoming Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race. It also marked a chance to promote ongoing revitalization efforts on the Balboa Peninsula — an area sometimes better known for its plethora of bars and unruly twenty-somethings than for kid-friendly activity.

In less than two weeks, spectators will crowd the peninsula for the race, which kicks off April 25 at the Balboa Pier. As airline, hotel and tourism representatives used the occasion to pitch travel to Mexico, so too did locals offer a taste of shops a short walk away.

Located about halfway down the peninsula, Balboa Village is bordered to the south by sunbathers stretched out by the Newport Pier and to the north by children riding the Ferris wheel in what remains of the storied Fun Zone.

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The place is both historic and iconic, concepts captured in new promotional material designed by Newport Beach and Co., an independent marketing entity for the city.

A new seal for the area depicts the Balboa Pavilion with the Ferris wheel behind it. "Balboa Village: Home of the Fun Zone," it reads. "Est. 1906."

"It's really the heart and soul of this city," said Ralph Rodheim, chairman of the Balboa Village Merchants Assn., which organized the event.

Along with the new logo is a new website and new restaurants — much to be excited about, Rodheim noted.

The association plans next to explore the concept of introducing outdoor dining in the village alleyways, perhaps with twinkling lights strung overhead.

"There's the driving force," Rodheim said as the district's representative, Councilman Mike Henn, who will reach his term limit this year, approached in a nautical shirt and flip-flops, "and he's not even running for office."

Henn worked with the Balboa Village Advisory Committee to herald what Vicki Higgins, chief marketing officer of Newport Beach and Co., described as "a new era for Balboa Village."

More than ever, the event aimed to involve families in the excitement.

"It needs stuff like this," said David Beek, whose family founded the ferry service to and from the island.

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