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Billy Crystal to pitch Long Beach in ads

Billy Crystal films a Long Beach commercial on

Billy Crystal films a Long Beach commercial on Neptune Boulevard in Long Beach. (June 26, 2013) Credit: Shaun Cleary

Comedian Billy Crystal will star in a television commercial urging tourists to visit his Sandy-damaged hometown of Long Beach, officials said Thursday.

The ads are part of a "Long Beach Is Open for Business" campaign, costing $700,000. They target vacationers from New York City.

New York State will contribute $100,000 toward the cost of the ads, with Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Citigroup each chipping in $50,000.

The state money to the new Long Beach Local Development Corp. was approved Thursday by the board of directors of Empire State Development Corp.

Kenneth Adams, president of Empire State Development, said Long Beach sorely needs help after being "so devastated" by Sandy. The Oct. 29 superstorm took several feet of sand from the beach and damaged the historic boardwalk beyond repair; a replacement is now under construction.

"We are engaging in a large-scale marketing campaign that includes television, radio, print, Web and billboard advertising," said Scott J. Mandel, president of the Long Beach City Council. "The success of our businesses is a critical component of our city's recovery, and our goal with this campaign is to welcome everyone back to the beach."

Crystal, who grew up in the seaside city, filmed a TV commercial Saturday on the beach, near Neptune Boulevard. He also gave the city $1 million raised from a March 23 fundraiser that he helped organize.

The ad campaign follows an announcement last month by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that the LIRR is again offering travel discounts for beachgoers to visit Long Beach. This year, more than 20 local businesses are offering reduced prices and gifts to customers who come on the train.

The initiatives are similar to New Jersey's "Stronger Than The Storm" campaign to encourage tourism at the Jersey Shore, which features Gov. Chris Christie.

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