Galveston's East Beach hosting reconstruction celebration

May 16, 2013 3:56:54 PM PDT
Galveston is revamping the island's east end following Hurricane Ike. The city is trying to lure more tourists back to the island. It's been nearly five years since the storm, but East Beach was hit particularly hard.

An all-new pavilion, boardwalk and entertainment stage are ready to debut, just in time for Memorial Day, the big kickoff to summer and Galveston's tourism season.

East Beach features a wide open beach, surrounded by a nature conservation area-, but it as ravaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

"This is an area where the eye of the hurricane crossed almost right directly upon us," said park board executive director Kelly de Schaun. "We received substantial damage."

Five years and $1.6 million later, the new pavilion and boardwalk are setting the stage for concerts, food and drink vendors and much needed facilities.

"With the passing of Hurricane Ike, it did debilitate our ability to host big events or even to, quite frankly, cater to beachgoers," de Schaun said. "It's a beautiful beach but there were only portable toilets here until last year."

Visitor Chris Flores said, "It's beautiful, now that summer's around."

Flores and his family make the drive from Webster, especially for East Beach. Now it'll be more convenient and more fun.

"It will be good for Galveston as well, you know to bring that back, and let people know that everything's back to normal," Flores said.

As for the area around East Beach, already there's a new luxury beachfront hotel in the works, and these latest upgrades will only make nearby condos and homes more attractive.

Beach Town founder Tofigh Shirazi said, "Now we have people from New York, Washington, DC, New Jersey buying property here in Beach Town."

East Beach is set to host several events including a free concert series and a huge grand re-opening festival on Memorial Day weekend. The event May 25 will feature free festivities for the public, including five live concerts from 2-8 pm, a beach bonfire and a fireworks show at dusk. East Beach's new entertainment stage and boardwalk will be home to a free concert series this summer with bands playing from 1-4pm on second, third and fourth Sundays May through September.

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