‘Epic’ bash held at Rip Tide before dive changes hands

The Rip Tide Lounge in this seaside town had a packed last-call bash Saturday night before longtime owner George Ciampa passed the keys to successor Mikael Vienneau.

On Saturday, July 29, the Marblehead community gathered to celebrate 55 years of George Ciampa’s ownership of the Rip Tide Lounge as the beloved dive bar changed hands. COURTESY PHOTO / JAMES MARONEY

Ciampa ran the beloved dive bar at 116 Pleasant St. for 55 years after acquiring it in 1968. But he decided to sell, putting the bar on the real estate market in January.

Before officially closing, Ciampa kept the doors open through July so loyal patrons could enjoy one final night in their favorite watering hole. Ciampa’s daughter-in-law, Jamie Ciampa, said word spread quickly about the impending closure, leading to a night of revelry on Saturday.

“It was insanity. We definitely were at capacity last night,” Ciampa’s daughter-in-law, Jamie Ciampa, said Sunday. “People cleaned us out — it’s probably the first time ever that the bar has been dry.”

She called the night “epic,” with some traveling to Marblehead just to say goodbye. She said she’ll miss the customers and community most of all.

“We swapped stories last night and caught up — it’s just sad to see this part of my life ending after almost 30 years,” Jamie Ciampa said.

The Rip Tide’s roots trace back to the 1930s or 1940s when it opened as Kylie’s after Prohibition. It was reportedly Marblehead’s first bar to serve alcohol again.

Over the decades, Ciampa turned the Rip Tide into a local staple, drawing sailors, fishermen and diverse weekend crowds. While some renovations are in the works, Vienneau purchased both the business and building, promising to maintain its character.

The Rip Tide will be closed, as the new owner works on those renovations.

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