Setting sun lights the evenings along the strip in Long Beach

Setting sun lights the evenings along the strip in Long Beach

LONG BEACH - As summertime rolls and the days stretch into the night with long evenings of dusky light, it's only natural for people to want to be outside - taking strolls where you don't mind the long walk home. It's the time when the heat of the day has faded away and the sun that made you squint has turned to a mellow gold.

While the seasonal influx of population cruises along the stretch of Pacific Highway, people always seem to be drawn to the center of Long Beach, taking in the many sights, sounds and smells of downtown. While carousel horses gallop and pinballs ping, many hit the streets because they want to take it all in, they want to be part of the happening.

Just around the corner from the main drag downtown is the home of 11-year-old Emily Singleton. On most nights you'll find Emily in the front yard with her friends, including Olivia and Amy Rodriguez (above, center), bouncing on the trampoline, sometimes until 11 p.m.

"It's just awesome," said Emily's mother Tammy Singleterry. "We're hardly ever in the house."

Summer evenings have long inspired people to take up the water hose and douse themselves and their friends. Such was the case with Seth Smith (above, top) and his two brothers and one sister. The vacationing family from St. Johns, Ariz., got into an impromptu water fight after purchasing "water weenies" from a downtown gift shop and using a faucet outside the business to refill their weapons.

Summerfest has become a favorite attraction for those looking for entertainment in the evening. The festival features a changing variety of singers and other artists performing free for the public. Rayna Goodwin (left), of the performance arts group Dance Praise, stretches out behind the big stage before a performance Friday night.

It doesn't seem to matter if you're from as close as Seaview or as far away as Saratoga - if you're downtown, you'll surely find some ice cream to eat (bottom, right). The various shops pedaling the frozen confection may be the busiest of all right now, with lines backed up out of the buildings some nights.

And for those who work in the downtown area, this time of year can be a tiring one. Jeremy Sieber, 16, of Baker Bay (above, left), waits for a ride home after a day of work at a local motel.

Past meets present in a glassine case near the Tilt-A-Whirl and other carnival rides (bottom, left). The interpretive kiosk displays pictures of the Peninsula past, including historical views of area locations, traditions and events.

But eventually the summer will be blown away by autumn winds until next year. (right, top). Sure, on some weekends the town will be hopping once again for a short time - but it's not like the feel of those waning summer nights.

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