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Hermosa Beach seeks to end beach-drinking Ironman event, eventually

June 29, 2010 |  7:00 am
<strong> Hermosa Beach</strong><br> <br> Rounding out your Wi-Fi night on the town, head over to a quiet, romantic spot on Hermosa Beach and break out your 'Net-enabled gadget. According to the <a href="http://www.wifihermosabeach.com/access.php">Hermosa Beach website</a>, a third of the city can access the wireless transmissions.<br> <br> A few words of warning: Watch out for the tide.

Hermosa Beach leaders say they cannot shut down the notorious Ironman beachfront drinking event this Fourth of July. But they are gagging a little bit.

About 500 participants crowded the Strand last year to participate in the 32-year-old tradition, said Police Chief Greg Savelli. Although the event is not sanctioned by the city, dozens of police are dispatched each year to contain the event to a small portion of the city's beachfront, Savelli said.

Competitors run a mile on the beach, paddle out on surfboards for another mile and then return to the shoreline to quickly down a sixer. The first to finish the beer without vomiting wins. Participants often regurgitate on each other.

City Council members last week discussed ways to phase Ironman out, starting by meeting with event organizers. Excessive drinking and rowdy behavior scares families away, city officials say.

For now, though, police will simply try to keep the crowd under control and off the beach by noon, Savelli said. Alcohol is not allowed on the beach.

"We can't cite 500 people," he said. "We don't have the manpower for that."

Debate raged on the Daily Breeze's website about the pros and cons of the event.

"Leave the Ironman alone," wrote Daniel in L.A. "It is a tradition worth keeping."

But others think it's time to rein it in.

"Hermosa Beach has become a year-round spring break," said someone posting as Justice For All.

-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: A peaceful moment near the Hermosa Beach pier in August 2008. Credit: Los Angeles Times