The Fainbarg Kayaks
At 87 years young, the Balboa Fun Zone in Newport Beach is going strong. It began during the Depression, in 1936, when the owner of a failing boatyard leased his land on the peninsula to businessman Al Anderson, who quickly constructed a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round on the property, thus creating the destination we know today. One of many activities people enjoy is paddling around the bay in kayaks—a fun choice introduced in 1938 by OC Jewish pioneer Allan Fainbarg. According to Allan, “In 1937 I was chosen to go on a ship out of Newport Harbor, a 235-foot yacht owned by a millionaire, and we were collecting animals for the San Diego Zoo, so I dropped out of high school. I was gone for a year and a half. We went to the Galapagos Islands and Central America, Ecuador, Peru and then we went up to Alaska. I saw how the Eskimos used to ride in kayaks, so when I came back I built some kayaks out of metal and some out of waterproof plywood that had just come in. I opened up a little business in 1938 in Newport Beach, right by the ferry, and I rented them out. I did very well with that until World War II, when I went into the Navy, and my sister ran the business while I was away. I sold the business for $8,000 after I graduated from college in 1947.” Allan continued his business savvy after college, becoming an Orange County business and community leader. And today, kayaking around the bay is still a favorite of many.
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