LONG BEACH — A dog dressed in a rainbow tutu led a parade of clowns and mermaids down Pacific Avenue to a field in the center of town, where a half-man, half-alligator picked a circus monkey as his new bride.
Jake the Alligator Man's annual 75th birthday bash took place Saturday, Aug. 3, in Long Beach in typical raucous fashion, where the unusual celebration honored the Peninsula's most peculiar mascot.
Jake, in reality an antique stuffed sideshow novelty, is a big attraction at Marsh's Free Museum in Long Beach. The nearly century-old object has long been featured on bumper stickers and has appeared on the cover of supermarket tabloids.
Event organizers several years ago decided to freeze his "official" age at 75 for the time being.
The all-day celebration featured a circus theme, including the mobile Museum of Curious Things, live music, carnival games, face painting, aerial silk performers and an array of costumed characters, including a woman walking on stilts.
"We tried to make it more kid-friendly," said organizer Karla Jensen. Previous years have emphasized a burlesque/sideshow vibe.
The peculiar trappings of the event were still preserved, including the much-anticipated "Bride of Jake Ceremony," where hopeful brides-to-be vied for Jake's scaly arm in marriage.
The field of potential wives included 'Reckless Robin,' a towering 10-foot tall purple bird; 'Susie Q Slaughter,' a fortune teller; 'Sea Lacia,' a mermaid; 'Queen La-Deda,' 'Minxy Forte,' a circus monkey, and the poi-ball twirling 'Praxis.'
Each bride answered Jake-related trivia questions and gave reasons why they would be the best bride to host MeduSirena 'The Fire-eating Mermaid.'
Jake chose 'Minxy Forte,' the circus monkey.
In the dog contest, Caitlin Mattson took first place with her dog, 'Tribele.'
In the car show, Dennis Martin won Bride's Choice for his 1955 DeSoto Firedome named 'Desi' and Shelley Otteson won Contestants' Choice for her purple 1970 Dodge Challenger, named 'Plum Crazy.'
This was the 13th year of the summer event, but the first time coordinating and organizing for Jensen, who co-owns the Mermaid Inn & RV Park and serves as vice president of the Long Beach Merchants Association.
"I didn't want to see a staple in our community go away," Jensen said.
The annual summer celebration and its raunchy cast of characters will return in the fall of 2020, adding a Long Beach event after Rod Run.
"Next year it's going to be the first weekend of October," Jensen said.
"We have a hard time finding enough rooms this time of year [for people] to get here for the event."