I’d been in Seaside each weekday for three weeks before my wife and three young children arrived — a sort of reverse “daddy train” situation. Living out of a suitcase isn’t the most comfortable life, but it is one way to simplify the distractions and routines of home for a short while.
Free of those things you see clearly. And what I saw in Seaside those first days as tourism marketing director was remarkable. Not just the impossibly vast and sandy beach from Tillamook Head to the Necanicum Estuary either.
I’m thinking about an impromptu lunch at Patty’s Wicker Cafe with Steve Wright discussing the Museum & Historical Society. I’m thinking about a mid-construction tour of the Civic and Convention Center with Gretchen Darnell, and how she treated me like an old friend on my very first morning in town.
I’m thinking about Michelle Wunderlich, who may have been the first person to realize I’d actually be sticking around awhile and gave me a coffee mug as a welcome gift because it matched my outfit. I’m thinking about the apple butter olee from Alex Brandon at Dough Dough Bakery that changed my life.
I’m thinking about Russell Vandenberg, who was the one who invited me on this Seaside adventure in the first place and has continued to be there when I’ve had a question or needed context on a city issue or the unfamiliar faces in a room. I’m thinking about watching Seaside’s spectacular fireworks from a front-and-center IMAX-esque position on the beach at sundown thanks to Brian Owen and the Chamber of Commerce.
I’m thinking, of course, about Chelsea Harper, Ken Heman, and Josh Garhofer - aka the City of Seaside Visitors Bureau — and the closest thing to “home” I had in those first weeks. Watching these three amazing employees and our two lovely volunteers attend to the needs and inquiries of North Coast tourists with heartfelt guidance is something to see. As one of only a handful of official Welcome Centers in Oregon, I’m proud that travelers leaving our Visitors Bureau are also leaving with the keys to unlock the state as a whole.
Lastly but maybe most importantly, I’m thinking of Jon Rahl. For eight years, Jon built up a little tourism marketing empire over here at U.S. Highway 101 and Broadway before transitioning to a new position as assistant city manager at City Hall. He’s been absolutely integral to the cooperation up and down the coast of community partners and has assembled a coalition of creative, development, marketing, and destination partners for Seaside and the North Coast in general. Thanks to his vision and bridge-building over the years, millions of people know “it’s easy to Seaside” and this historic coast community is well positioned for the future.
My family will be a small part of that future. Thanks to all of you.
Joshua Heineman is Seaside’s director of tourism and marketing.