Surf's Up! A Guide To 100 Years Of Surfing Events In Huntington Beach

George Freeth, circa 1910 (Image via Wikipedia)

Imagine this: The Hawaiian-born "Father of Modern Surfing" George Freeth steps off the Pacific Electric Railway train in Huntington Beach on June 20, 1914, to answer railway mogul Henry Huntington's invitation to surf at the iconic HB Pier. It's been almost a century since Freeth's epic "walk on water," and Surf City is pulling out all the stops to honor the centennial. 

The collaborative community exhibition series "Surfboards on Parade" kicked off the yearlong citywide celebration on January 14 with the unveiling of the first of 28 completely unique surfboards shaped and adorned by notable artist teams. HB's own Tim Stamps handed his handmade board over to acclaimed marine life artist Wyland, and the result was a terrifying snapshot of one of the ocean's most feared predators. On the heels of the premiere come numerous celebratory events planned throughout the year.

Ready those calendars, HB! Here's a chronological look at what's to come:

March 11 // 2nd "Surfboards on Parade" Unveiling at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort 

The second "Surfboards on Parade" board is unveiled at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort featuring a collaboration between shaper Robert August and artist John Van Hamersveld.


March 18 // 3rd "Surfboards on Parade" Unveiling at the Hyatt Regency

The third "Surfboards on Parade" board is unveiled at the Hyatt Regency featuring a collaboration between shaper Tim Bessell and artist Andy Warhol.


March 25 // 4th "Surfboards on Parade" Unveiling at the Shorebreak Hotel

The fourth "Surfboards on Parade" board is unveiled at the Shorebreak Hotel featuring a collaboration between shaper Al Merrick and artist Dave Hobrecht.


April 26 // 5th "Surfboards on Parade" Unveiling at Hoag Health Center

The fifth "Surfboards on Parade" board is unveiled at Hoag Health Center in Huntington Beach following a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting honoring the new center expansion. Featured collaborators include shaper Mike Huseman, artist Carole Akins and cancer survivors. 


May 1 // "Surfboards on Parade" Grand Unveiling + May Day/Lei Day Celebrations

An epic day of surf celebrations, all 27 surfboards are unveiled at the HB Art Center. HB celebrates May Day/Lei Day with opening island-style ceremonies, followed by the "Surfboards on Parade" Kickoff Reception at the center from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets costs $25 and give attendees opportunities to meet the artists, shapers and other big names in surf; a screening of Surf City Highlights' Matt Liffreing's behind-the-scenes short film on the ongoing exhibition; interactive exhibits; live music by Trevor Green; a live performance of Sharpie artist Chris "Pinstripe" Dunlop completing his surfboard; complimentary valet, bites courtesy of Duke's and wine courtesy of SeaLegs Wine Bar.


May 2-August 17 // "Surfboards on Parade" Exhibit Throughout HB

"Surfboards on Parade" display at their sponsor locations. "They'll be there all through summer and all through the U.S. Open," says Event Manager Jodi McKay. "People can come out and do walking tours and check them all out." Promotional events are in the works, including check-ins at each board location. McKay adds, "Once they visit them all they're entered into a raffle for a really great prize."

"Surfboards on Parade" route map (Image by HB Digital, courtesy of Event Fusion)


May 3 // The Endless Summer 50th Anniversary Celebration

Paying homage to the iconic 1966 Bruce Brown surf documentary, the celebration at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort kicks off at 5 p.m. and features special guests Bruce Brown, Robert August, Mike Hynson, John Van Hamersveld, R. Paul Allen and Robert "Wingnut" Weaver. Proceeds will benefit the Surfing Heritage & Culture Center in San Clemente. Tickets start at $250 and can be purchased here.


June 8 // 28th "Surfboards on Parade" Board Unveiled at Surfin' Sundays

The 28th "Surfboards on Parade" board is unveiled at 1 p.m. during Surfin' Sundays at Pier Plaza. Spoiler alert! The board is a 1956 Gordie Duane model featuring a gold 45 record of "Surf City" by Jan and Dean inlaid in it. A fundraiser for the International Surfing Museum, the 18th annual concert series hosts bands playing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as over 40 vendors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


June 21 // "When Men Were Men And Boards Were Made Of Wood" Surfing Exhibition at the HB Pier

A total of 50 brave surfers take to the south side of the HB Pier from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with old and new wooden surfboards as part of the exhibition "When Men Were Men And Boards Were Made Of Wood," presented by the legendary Pete "PT" Townend. Wetsuits are forbidden, wooden boards must be ridden, and "like a car show," says PT, "it's gonna have two categories: old wood, so that means original wood that was built back in the day, and new wood. You can build a new wood board to ride." A replica of Freeth's handmade wood board will be ridden by a celebrity surfer during the event as a reenactment of the epic ride. The south side of the pier will be cleared for four hours, and a winner will be chosen from two categories: Old Wood (wood boards made before 1964) and New Wood (woods boards made since). Winners will scoop up $500. But remember: "It's not a contest; it's an exhibition," says PT. Surfers can hit the water at any time during the four-hour window. Entry fee costs $20 and benefits the International Surfing Museum. Participants will receive a complimentary event t-shirt designed by local artist Dave Hobrecht. RSVP to Townend at ActivEmpire@aol.com. 

Read Main & PCH's own Hudson Wise's ongoing chronicle of prepping for the event.

Event recap: Photos: 'When Men Were Men & Boards Were Made Of Wood' At The Huntington Beach Pier


June 22 // HB Pier Commemoration Ceremony 

Starting at 11 a.m. at the HB Pier, the City of HB celebrates the opening of the first, longest and highest concrete municipal pier in the U.S. The event features historic images of the pier, live music, the unveiling of a new plaque at Pier Plaza and speeches by city officials and members of the surf industry. Local author Chris Epting will speak as well.


June 22 // Innagural "Century of Stoke" Exhibit Opens at the International Surfing Museum

The International Surfing Museum transforms into a full-on centennial dedication to 100 years of surfing at the HB Pier, complete with "lots of artifacts and other cool components," says museum Director-at-Large Cindy Cross. The exhibit will highlight moments in surf history that have helped shape modern surf culture. Curated by Peter "PT" Townend and Museum Exhibits Director Dave Reynolds, the exhibit welcomes the public on opening day from noon to 5 p.m. and displays through November 30.


June 30-July 3 // NSSA Nationals & "Mayors Cup"


July 4 // Parade Float, Waves of Freedom, Honor Sister City Manly, Australia


July 19-September 20 // "The Art and Soul of Surfing" at Huntington Beach Art Center

"The exhibition honors the beauty and inspiration of surfing and the intimate relationship of the artist/surfer and the ocean," according to the HB Art Center. Legendary surf artists are featured alongside emerging surf artists. The opening reception takes place on Saturday, July 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. If you miss it, do not despair. The exhibition displays through Saturday, September 20. More details here.


July 26-August 3 // Vans U.S. Open of Surfing

Visit the official Vans U.S. Open of Surfing 2014 website for details.


July 28 // The Greens Room Golf Tournament 

Starting at 9:30 a.m., participants golf with professional surfers at Seacliff Country Club to benefit the International Surfing Museum and honor 100 years of surfing at the HB Pier. Registration costs $300 for a single player, $550 for a twosome and $1,100 for a foursome. Fee includes live entertainment, contests, friendly competition, lunch, cocktails and an appetizer reception. Events goes until 6 p.m. To register, contact Tournament Director Celeste Hamil at celestehamil@gmail.com or 714-715-8766. For more information, click here.


July 29 // Follow the Light Foundation Photography Awards

Details to come.


July 30 // Surfing Walk of Fame Gala Reception at Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort 

Details to come.


July 31 // Surfing Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony

Details to come.


August 1 // Surfers' Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Details to come.


August // Manly, Australia Sister City Student Exchange in HB

Details to come.


August 30-September 20 // "Surfboards on Parade" Exhibit at the HB Art Center

All "Surfboards on Parade" exhibit collectively at the HB Art Center.


September 7 // Blessing of the Waves

Details to come.


September 13-14 // Surf City Days

Details to come. 


September 14 // "The Ride": Guinness World Record Attempt for "Most Riders on a Single Board" During Surf City Days 

Visit HB will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "Most Riders on a Single Board" by organizing dozens of riders to stand and ride a 40-foot surfboard unassisted for 10 seconds. The current record belongs to Snapper Rocks, Queensland, Australia, with 47 people riding a 39'4" surfboard (see below video). Local shapers will build the massive board, and a documentary following the board's creation and the grand event is in the works. More details to come.


September 26-28 // 6th Annual Surf City Surf Dog

Hosted by Unleashed by Petco , the three-day dog-centric event features pre-competition happenings in HB on Friday and Saturday, then the surf competition on Sunday from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Huntington Dog Beach. Details here.


October 4 // Night of A Million Waves Gala at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort

Waterfront Hilton Beach Resort hosts the Night of A Million Waves gala, "Surfboards on Parade" auction and awards ceremony. All boards display at the event and are part of the auction, which primarily benefits the Hoag Family Cancer Institute and its battle against skin cancer. Other beneficiaries include the HB Art Center, International Surfing Museum and Rotary Club of HB.


October 25 // Senior Surf Invitational 

Details to come.


October // International Surfing Museum Hosts "Woods And Woodies" Tournament/Exhibit

International Surfing Museum Director-at-Large Cindy Cross says, "We're also planning a golf tournament called 'Woods and Woodies,' which will feature a very cool tourney as well as classic Woodies on display" at Seacliff. The date has yet to be finalized. 


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