Turning the tourism tide

Jon Rahl

Sports, especially baseball, have provided great metaphors in life for me. The very humbling game played with a 9-inch, 5-ounce ball, a glove and a bat taught me a lot about failure and success, and that neither will guide what may happen next.

Most recently, I’ve been lucky enough to get to coach a group of 11- and 12-year-old boys, and a regular phrase I’ve been using with them is to turn the page. It’s something I know I was told growing up while playing the game myself. A strikeout, an error, even a success on the diamond doesn’t mean things are finished. There’s nearly always another opportunity waiting in the next at bat, another chance coming when a ball is put in play. I was taught and like to talk about turning the page and to be prepared for what comes next.

As I sit down to write what will be my final column from my office at the Seaside Visitors Bureau, I’m reminding myself that I need to practice what I’ve been talking about, and now turn the page on this chapter of my work life. In two weeks I’ll move across the street to City Hall to take a new position and I could not be more excited for the new challenge and great opportunity.

Eight years ago, almost to the day, I was packing up a moving van and a white jeep to move with my family from Salt Lake City to a town I was still very much getting to know. I had a lot less gray hair, my kids were still toddlers and quite frankly, I had a lot to learn. I was being given an opportunity by my boss, Russell Vandenberg, to oversee the tourism marketing and advertising for the city of Seaside. I’ve thought a lot about that time since I accepted a new position with the city two months ago.

I’ve thought about Laurie Mespelt, then Seaside Downtown Development Association director, who took me around downtown to meet business owners and welcome me to the area. Gretchen Darnell, my colleague and sales director at the Convention Center, drove me around the city and the county to show me some of her favorite spots and special places. Joyce Stewart, Patricia Smiles and Sandy McDowall, were my original information specialists. They encouraged me and were such incredible supports to me in those first days, weeks and months.

There are countless people I probably should recognize as taking me under their wing and assisting me in some great capacity over the years. I hope you know who you are and that I’ve thanked you personally. The Seaside Signal has allowed me to talk about my job and pen this column since 2011. And I had amazing community support when I lost my dad and mom in 2015 and 2016.

I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done since 2010 and especially over the past three years as we worked to completely overhaul our community branding and marketing materials. To cap all of that off by placing new welcome signs on both ends of town that match the branding work has been a lot of fun. I love the connections I’ve made, that we created a marketing coalition with Astoria, Warrenton and Cannon Beach and that people trusted our efforts. This community has given me a lot to be thankful for.

The final week of June I’ll be working with my successor in Joshua Heineman. He too will be moving with a young family to the coast. I’m excited for the sense of community and collaboration that he’ll bring to Seaside and I wish him the same great support I received. Thank you, Seaside, for trusting me and supporting the work we’ve done for the past eight years. This page I now turn is one that’s bittersweet but one I can’t wait to make.

Jon Rahl has served as the director of tourism for the Seaside Visitors Bureau and assistant general manager of the Seaside Civic and Convention Center since June 2010 and will transition to assistant city manager on July 2.

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