Friday, May 20, 2011

Passengers got a musical welcome

P&O Orient Lines' SS Iberia

Reader Margo Mills Fallis writes in with a memory of the Port:

"In 1962 our ship, SS Iberia, docked in Long Beach. My parents and four of their five children, including me, had left Sydney, Australia to sail to America and start a new Life. I was nearly ten years old at the time.

"As the ship docked, I remember there was a band playing 'California Here We Come.' That stuck in my mind to this day (now age 57).

"We were taken to huge building and our luggage was there, stacked higher than I was. We were there for a very long time and I was so tired."

That band playing for the incoming passengers was none other than the Long Beach Municipal Band, which will hold its season-opening concert this year at the Port's 100th Birthday Party on Saturday, June 25.

The Municipal Band often played for passengers of incoming passenger liners, which in those days were mostly from the P&O Orient Line, in the 1950s and '60s as part of a program to welcome visitors to Long Beach. The program, which was started by the Downtown Kiwanis Club, provided telephone facilities and personal help for incoming passengers who might need to see a doctor or dentist, for instance, or just find out how to get to Disneyland.

One notable occasion for a Municipal Band performance, pictured below, came in December 1962, after another P&O liner, the Oriana, collided with the Navy carrier Kearsarge in dense fog off the coast of Long Beach. While the Oriana underwent repairs, the Port, city and Chamber of Commerce, along with private individuals and other civic groups, donated funds for the stranded passengers to be entertained at local homes and attractions, including the music of the renowned Long Beach band.

For more about the Municipal Band, go to

For more about the Port's 100th Birthday Party, go to

Click here for photos and more information about the SS Iberia

The Long Beach Municipal Band gives a concert to the stranded passengers of the liner Oriana in December 1962.

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