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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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July 27, 2012     The Catalina Islander
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July 27, 2012
 

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m m CARRIERS HAVE PITCHED IN TO HELP DRAW PEOPLE TO CATALINA BY DENNIS KAISER Good times seem to be gently rolling forward for Avalon's econo- my according to a reported higher number of visitors to the Island in comparison to recent years. Local merchants and the spokesman for the local Chamber of Commerce say they have seen definite signs of improvement, despite a national recession with long legs and a handful of trag- ic, economically numbing events such as the 2007 fire that threat- ened the tiny Island town. According to the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau, June visitor counts were up 9.2 percent since the same time last year and up 10.2 percent year to date. Meanwhile, cross- channel carrier counts were up 10.5 percent in June, the 25th month in a row of year-over-year increases in cross-channel car- rier passenger counts. Cruise ship visitors were also up in June, 1.8 percent over June 2011. Having more visitors has appar- ently translated into more income for local merchants. "Being in business, I have noticed it being busier for more parts of the day this summer," said Caleb Lins, of The Lobster Trap restaurant. "I have also noticed that there are more people in town this summer than in the past few years?' Wayne Griffin, president and CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce, said he is cautiously optimistic. "Areas of the economy are still hurting as housing has not recov- ered. Unemployment is still too high and people out there are struggling" he said. "A large seg- ment of our society has recovered and those people are starting to travel again?' While most agree several fac- tors are responsible for moving Avalon's economy forward, some stand out as businesses large and small work together and feed on each other's ideas on how to keep the Island's economy pumping. A key factor, according to some merchants, is how the main carri- ers of visitors to the Island have pitched in to help draw people to choose Catalina as a destination for vacation travel. One is the Catalina Flyer that takes visitors to the Island out of Newport Beach. It has been offering, Groupon rates that have accounted for a significant rise in people booking passage. Another is Catalina Express' popular pack- age that offers free transportation to Catalina on a patron's birthday. "I definitely havb noticed more people in town wearing the Catalina Express (birthday) rib- bons," said Gene Eubank of the Cookie Company. "We decided a couple of months ago to offer a free cup of coffee to the people coming on their birthday and we know they are spending money. A lot of them seem to be visiting Catalina fox the first time and many will probably come back again" Other Avalon business people were likewise bullish on the cur- rent trend. "We have seen greater occu- pancy rates this summer than in the recent past few years," said Jim Watson, co-manager of Avalon's Buena Vista Hotel. "For the past few weeks we have been 90 to 99 percent full. The hotel has not seen this kind of occupancy since the '80s or '90s." Watson is also the projectionist at the Avalon Theater. "I have seen much more atten- dance at the movies," Watson said. "In the past few years we had to cancel some screenings because there were just not enough people. I would say we have had about double the attendance we have had over the past few previous years." Griffin said that such coop- eration between the Island's" busi- nesses has added to the better Meal economy. "There is no question that this has helped," Griffin said. "It has created a kind of 'perfect storm' with all the merchants benefiting. There is nothing in the economy that is a sure thing, but it looks like the rest of the summer will fare well and that gives promise to our future." Watson From page 1 one to be found. She described the man as be- ing a shorter, balding middle-aged man. He appeared to be wearing a baseball-style cap along with a sports team-style jacket. Some time later, Teresa was cleaning the floor tiles at the en- trance to the kitchen area. Her back was ~ turned to the front win- dows of the restaurant through which early morning light was il- luminating the inte- rior. As usual, she was alone. Suddenly, she no- ticed a large shadow Jim Watson that had cast itself from Columnist behind her over the floor and the wall in front of her. Remembering her earlier expe- rience, she first counted to three and then turned around to see "un hombre como una sombra" ("a man like a shadow") moving through the restaurant and disappearing into the nearby busboy's station. Other employees, too, have seen this same figure descending into the basement, a place that many of the kitchen workers refuse to enter when they are alone. One former employee remem- bers sitting in the office in the kitch- en late one night and seeing some- one walk right by the office door. Since no one was supposed to be in the building at this hour, the em- ployee immediately rose and looked- out the office door to see who the trespasser was, only to find no one there. So who is our spectral friend? Given that the building i has been there for many decades, it could be just about anyone who was ever associated with it: former owners, manag- ers, employees, devout patrons who just couldn't leave this earthly plane without knowing whether or not torta di granchio was offered on the "other side." Such spiritual "hangers-on," I am told, are often those dear de- parted individuals who had the most emotional attachment to the particular locale they are haunting. I spoke with several locals who used to know a former manager of the restaurant going back to the 1960s and '70s. Although the clothing description of a baseball- style cap and jacket didn't sound familiar to them, they said the general description of a shorter, balding middle-aged man is an ex- act match. Teresa has had no cessation of encounters with this spirit since her original one several years ago. In fact, glimpses of the "shadow man," as well as plates scooting off tables by themselves and even phygical brushes against someone "who is-not there" have become so common she now laughs them off. I think it's funny, now" she said. "Whoever he is, he is here and I don't care anymore." COMING SOON: Beginning later this month, the book "Mys- terious Island: Catalina," based on this column, will be available at Amazon, including Kindle, and in stores all over Avalon. Visit the Channel Catalina website at www. channelcatalina.com for details. Catalina Island Medical Center's state-of-the-art Siemens CT Scanner can-provide the diagnostic images needed for nearly all medical conditions. Simply let your physician know you would prefer to have your diagnostic imaging completed on the island. * Familiar places and familiar faces * No appointment needed Scans available immediately on CD * Images sent electronically toyour physician Please call for more information. IslandMedicalCenter Monte Mellon, MD Tracey Norton, DO Laura Ulibarri, MD Diane Chamberlin, NP (31o) 51o-o7oo 1oo Falls Canyon Road PO Box 1563, Avalon 90704 www.Cl MedicalCenter.org THE cAi~ALINA Isi.ANDER Friday, July 27. 201219