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North Oregon Coast's Labor Day Riots Focus of Seaside Talk

Published 4/06/24 at 6:45 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Seaside, Oregon) – In 1962, and then again in '63 and '64, the contemplative summer vacation feel of the north Oregon coast was broken apart by teen-fueled riots. On Labor Day Weekend of '62, what started out with a fight between two young men blossomed into an-out assault on property and then police. At one point, hundreds were marauding around the streets.

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The place was Seaside.

That particular seminal event will be explored with a presentation by the Seaside Museum and Historical Society on April 18, with local writer / author RJ Marx giving a talk for the museum's monthly History & Hops event at the Times Theatre & Public House in Seaside.

The free talk begins at 6 p.m. The venue is at 133 Broadway in Seaside.

“For April’s discussion we’ll examine the events leading up to the Labor Day 1962 riot, their causes, the personalities, the politics, and the way quick-thinking authorities teamed with rock ‘n’ rollers to quell two days of unbridled mayhem,” said the museum's Emily Halverson.

The Seaside Labor Day Riots started with the 1962 brouhaha, but continued two more years in smaller doses, altering the legacy of the town even today. Even more interesting, they reached into the realm of rock 'n' roll history.

“The tumultuous confrontations between young people and authorities on Broadway, onto the Prom and the beach impacted the lives of all those who were there,” Halverson said.

For some, looking back at those times at Seaside in the early '60s brings on memories of teens dancing to Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Kingsmen and the Fabulous Wailers. It was a bit like a beach movie. Yet to others this was a traumatic event, filled with violence that changed their lives forever.

At the time, there was an all-age venue called the Pypo Club (see Pivotal Live Music Venues in Oregon Coast History), and there was a kind of rock 'n' roll scene that went hand-in-hand with young visitors. Indeed, one little Tacoma band called The Wailers (often the Fabulous Wailers) were asked to play the Turnaround on the following Monday to help re-channel the energy of teens. The somewhat famous single “Doin' the Seaside” came out of that gig.

Marx is an author, editor and journalist, spending 20 years behind the editor desk in Bedford, New York's the Record-Review. He moved to the north Oregon coast in the mid 2010s and became editor of two coastal papers. His work on “Seaside’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Labor Day Riots: 1962-1964” emerged from his interest in the city’s colorful times and the characters who lived here. He hopes to reach out to all those who may recall those times to preserve a key element of the city’s unfolding story. He lives in Seaside with his wife Eve and their dogs Lucy and Trixie. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

There was also a sizable riot in 1999.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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