One doesn’t have to travel far to catch an eyeful of beautiful murals and creative craftsmanship throughout Cocoa Beach’s businesses and building-sides. From colorful impressions of underwater scenes to uniquely painted pottery, it’s clear the community supports art out and around the downtown landscape. With so many talented hands to choose from, we were pleased to hear one of our local artisans was chosen to create a piece for the re-opening of our beloved Publix Cornerstone Plaza marketplace. Newly erected and brimming with a buzz only a much-anticipated business can generate, the new (and improved) Publix brings a promise of fresh, bountiful produce, marketplace supplies, convenience, trusted quality and a deep dedication to customer service and community involvement. Publix further endeared itself to our township when they sought out a local artist for a centerpiece in their store’s decor.
When approached by the Publix representative, Mark Longenecker, owner of Endless Summer Tattoo, was asked to create something with a Cocoa Beach theme, which he considered an honor to create and donate. About the new Publix, Longenecker stated, “Cocoa Beach has been without for such a long time / It’s very exciting for all of us and has made our lives so much better and easier / I was honored to put my art in there / I share the excitement with all of Cocoa Beach for its arrival.”
Much like his artwork, Longnecker personifies a classic beach vibe; colorful clothing and an easy nature epitomizes the casual, “I live the way people vacation,” seaside-life persona. Such nostalgia can easily be found in his artwork as well. When asked how one could describe his artwork, he suggested his coined phrase “Tropi-Style,” which is “basically tropical style, where the focus is on the beach, tropical imagery, lots of color and anything that reminds you of vacation: blue water and palm trees.” All of which, he mentioned, are very appealing to divers, ocean lovers and beach lovers.
Many moons past, Mark left the town of his youth, Fort Lauderdale, in search of a community to lay down roots and build a thriving tattoo business. He knew he wanted a location near the beach, with a tropical landscape.
Once he landed in Cocoa Beach, he knew he’d found just the spot; with a dynamic beach break and an easy lifestyle, Florida’s premier beach was the perfect location to hone his craft.
From there, the small boy who began his love for art painting his family dog grew to become a celebrated tattoo artist, recognized both locally and throughout the world of tattooing for his iconic, tropical style. His successes reached international levels when he competed as a semifinalist in the TV show series “Ink Master – Rivals.” We can only assume every surface he touches is left with a splash of color and an easy tropical vibe infusion ideal for our beach town setting.
A man of many pursuits, Longenecker is known not only for his lively art, but also for being a huge proponent for reggae music and charity work.
Though the list of the charity organizations he supports is long and distinguished, it is his work with Surfers for Autism that inspires him the most. Of the organization he says, “Surfers for Autism is the biggest charity I support, have the most love for, and put the most heart into, because I’ve seen it work. I’ve worked with a lot of charities that I believe in, most of which only require a check. However, I enjoy contributing to Surfers for Autism mostly because I’ve seen the improvement in the kids, with my own eyes. A kid will show up at the beach making no eye contact, but leave the beach making eye contact, hugging and smiling… I see it making an impact in a child’s life. The ocean is a healing place, and I know that Surfers for Autism is a formula that works.” He further adds he’s been working with them since he first arrived in Cocoa Beach, fifteen years ago.
Another great form of charity work Longnecker is involved in is supported through his deep love of reggae music. Dub Massive is an annual charity event benefitting Surfers for Autism that celebrates reggae music through DJs.
“When you go to a traditional festival, it’s all about the bands and DJs are considered background music, playing in between sets. With Dub Massive, the DJs are the superstars and the focus is on them and their performances. It’s all about dancing and listening to new and old music,” Longenecker says. Traditionally, the venue has been Cocoa Beach’s Sandbar Sports Grill; however, Mark says he’s open to new ideas of going bigger and locating a larger venue in the hopes of supporting the growing interest and success of the event and the charity it supports.
When we asked Longenecker what was next on his list of goals to accomplish this year, the man decorated head to toe with imaginative tattoos and a rich personality looked back with a genuine smile and said, “I’m going to yoga teacher training!” Well then, Longenecker, we will see you on the mat. But in the meantime, don’t stop what you’re doing! Cocoa Beach thanks you.
To see and learn more about Mark Longenecker’s art, look for him on Instagram @marklongenecker or visit his tattoo shop website endlesssummertattoo.com.
There are so many great beachside residents on which to report. However, I had only to look across the office from where I sit every day to find one great American / beachside resident I am proud to report on. Being that I am the Editor-in-Chief for this rag, I have decided to take it upon myself, amidst much protest from the man himself, to bring to light someone I am proud of. He’s a moderately modest man who doesn’t often get the accolades he deserves. Outside from being my boss and friend, he is (most importantly) a decorated combat U.S. Marine veteran, and his story deserves to be heard.
So who is Mr. Beachside? Well, that’s Craig Harriman. Craig was born in Belfast, Maine. He spent the majority of his childhood riding four-wheelers, hunting, camping, fishing and exploring the great outdoors. His family owned a True Value hardware store for 20+ years, where he learned much of his work ethic. He fast-tracked through high school, graduating in just three years, followed by two years at Southern Maine Community College. In 2001 he signed up for the delayed entry program with the United States Marine Corps, with an M.O.S. of Presidential Security Forces.
On September 11, 2001, while attending college, he watched as two planes collided with the Twin Towers. Immediately, he made a willful choice to approach his recruiter and enlist. By the second day of the new year, 2002 , he was standing on the yellow footprints at Paris Island, South Carolina. After 13 weeks, he graduated from Boot Camp, and was soon after shipped to the School of Infantry where he specialized as a heavy machine gunner. After graduating the School of Infantry, he attended the Marine Corps Security Forces school where he specialized in close quarters battle (CQB). After graduation, he received his first orders to Washington State where he worked in classified operations. After two years of being an operator, Craig was promoted to Security Force Instructor where he spent a little over a year training students in CQB, physical security, and other special tactics. While at this duty station, he also received his 1st Instructor black belt in the Marine Corps Mixed Martial Arts program.
In late 2004, he received orders to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and was assigned to a special unit preparing for deployment to the Iraq war. Tasked as a small unit leader for a combined anti-armor team, he specialized in transportation of high-risk personnel and high level dignitary security. He served two back-to-back tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), in addition to a classified area near Sadr City Baghdad. After the war, he received orders to Brunswick Naval Air Station where he served as an Infantry Inspector Instructor. His primary duty was to train infantry reserve units to fight in combat. His secondary duty was to serve as head of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program for the state of Maine, raising money for children in need during the holiday season. He was also assigned duty as casualty notification wherein he was responsible for family notifications of killed in action (KIA) Marines or deceased Marines. Essentially, once the Marine’s body came off the plane, it was in his stewardship until it was laid to rest. He has ushered many of our fallen heroes to their final resting spots and attended many funerals.
While stationed in Maine, he received medical treatment for injuries he sustained in 2010 and was medically retired. That year, he left the state of Maine and headed to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as a federal police officer. There, he was assigned a few very prestigious special assignments. When Obama came to Kennedy Space Center in 2012, Craig was selected to drive the lead security vehicle in his convoy.
During his years at the Air Force Station, he worked many launches. He even worked special detail on the last couple shuttle launches in history. Some days he gets that far-away look on his face and regales his excitement in meeting the many astronauts and dignitaries who shook his hand over the years.
In 2012, he took over representation of The Beachside Resident syndication, where he learned his passion for storytelling and reporting. Nearly simultaneously, in 2013, he stepped into the private sector and began work renovating and revitalizing properties within the greater Cocoa Beach area. I’m often in awe of the dedication it must’ve taken to operate a publication and transition to the private arena at the same time. I’ve transitioned out of the military myself; going to the mall to buy new sneakers nearly broke me.
As though that weren’t enough, within that year, he also created the Cocoa Beach Friday Fest, which still exists today, and attended the Florida Main Street conference where he helped establish the Cocoa Beach Main Street program. Craig has served as the Marketing Director/Production Manager on local events like the Cocoa Beach Art Show, Thunder on Cocoa Beach and The Legend of the Seagullmen. Some of the events he’s partnered with are Surfing Santas, Operation Surf and Surfers for Autism. In 2017, he started the Eastern Pro/AM and served as the Executive Director for the event.
Recently he’s worked on many community revitalization projects. Craig has helped incubate over 13 local businesses within the downtown Cocoa Beach community, and is also the founder of Mai Tiki Market. This year, The Beachside Resident hosted our first annual Mai Tiki Carving Contest where we gave $5,000 in prize money to the best tiki carvers in the country.
Craig’s concept for a tiki carving contest was a hit with the community. In fact, we’ve scheduled April 20, 2019 for the second annual event, so now it’s a thing. This guy is a maverick when it comes to brainstorming and fund-raising and we couldn’t be more proud of him for the events he’s conceived of and cultivated. Not to brag, but Craig has even served as a Board of Director for a couple years on the Cocoa Beach Kiwanis Club. Last year he helped lead the charge in raising over $10,000 for the Cocoa Beach Roosevelt playground.
His passions include skateboarding, surfing, VW’s, woodworking and reggae music. He is a father of two beautiful girls. He has a gorgeous girlfriend who pierces the masses with her custom jewelry (Whitney Bailey, Endless Summer Tattoo), three dogs, three chickens, five fish and one fine pig named Hammy.
Craig is an environmentalist at heart with a goal to better our environmental guardianship. He has a great passion for the ocean, and especially our lagoon. He plans to use his platform with Beachside Media and The Beachside Resident to raise awareness about local beachside subjects that affect us all. Craig believes in our community and that ultimately, the change must start with us.