Every holiday season for a little more than a decade, Dan Pressburg, a north Long Beach community “advocate,” has opened up his turn-of-the-century home, known as the Historic Long Beach Dairy and Creamery, to local dignitaries and community leaders.
This year, the 11th annual North Long Beach Community Christmas Party took place last Sunday, Dec. 2 and was attended by about 100 people. The event included a “white elephant” game for an ornament swap and an appearance by Santa. Those who attended brought their favorite dishes as well.
Pressburg said he started the holiday tradition nearly 15 years ago with just a small group of less than a dozen people as a way to promote the neighborhood that otherwise has carried with it negative connotations. He said north Long Beach has since developed into one of the best places to live in the city.
“[The Christmas party] started out, as with all things over here, for recognition of this area and the community, because north Long Beach, traditionally, has gotten kind of a bad rap one way or another,” he said. “For years, we’ve continually been trying to raise property values and promote this area … the nice thing about this area now is property values are going up and houses are turning over, which is really good, and young families are moving in … This is one of the best spots in town.”
Pressburg, who has a degree in history, bought the home, located at 167 E. South St., in 1984 for $99,900 and eventually discovered that it was once the house for dairy men that ran the Long Beach Dairy Creamery in 1911 until the outfit was moved downtown. The home, which was first built in 1903, was officially designated as a Long Beach city landmark in 1994, Pressburg said, adding that he organizes open houses about twice a year.
Although political flare-ups have occurred at times, the holiday gatherings have traditionally given the public a chance to meet with candidates during election years, existing elected officials an opportunity to meet with each other and constituents, and neighbors an occasion to meet each other, all in a comfortable setting, Pressburg said. “This is down-home community … that’s all this is,” he said.
Jeff Kellogg, current Long Beach City College Trustee and former 8th District Long Beach City Councilmember who has known Pressburg personally since the 1980s, said he tries to make it to the party every year as a way to stay connected with the community. He said his term isn’t over until about two years, so his attendance wasn’t part of a campaign effort. “It’s always nice for me, whether it’s the holidays or not, to come here and see lots of friends,” Kellogg said. “I show up because I want to show up, not because I have to show up.”
Ninth District Long Beach City Councilmember Steven Neal, who stopped by after giving a sermon as a pastor on Sunday, said the event is an example of “community building” and getting the public more “engaged,” objectives on which his own council office is focused.
“This really is a community event,” he said. “Dan opens up his home to community leaders to give them a chance to come around and get to know each other in a setting where people can let their guards down… when relationships are formed around that, it makes it easier to do the kind of work that needs to take place in transforming the community.”