June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Hitting the Waves

By Sam Skopp

On Saturday, June 3, Bay Street Beach, located south of the Santa Monica Pier, was host to Nick Gabaldon Day, a celebration of Santa Monica surfer Nick Gabaldon, who was documented as the first surfer of African-American and Mexican descent, and regularly surfed at the beach where this celebration was held for the sixth year in a row.

The morning’s activities began with a paddle out in honor of Gabaldon, before volunteers from Heal the Bay, the Black Surfers Collective, The Surfrider Foundation and other organizations both gave historical talks and led free surf lessons. Later on, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium offered free admission to event attendees and screened a documentary on Gabaldon titled “12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldon Story.”

Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson, a historian, began to help organize the event after Jeff Williams of the Black Surfers Collective first thought of celebrating Gabaldon’s legacy. In its second year, Dr. Jefferson helped secure support from Heal the Bay and some other sponsors, turning the event into what it is today.

“I think it’s a really great event because you’re introducing people to beach recreation, but you’re also introducing them to the cultural landscape that’s here.” said Dr. Jefferson.

Kids from Pacoima and South L.A. were among those being given free surf lessons, because of an initiative to provide transportation to kids from underprivileged, landlocked communities in the greater L.A. area.

“One of our big missions, especially locally, is coastal access,” said Joel Cesare, the Vice Chair of the West L.A./Malibu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. “Days like today really help facilitate that.”

In total, over 100 kids were given free surf lessons throughout the morning.

“[Gabaldon] lived his dream, and he has become a symbol of this particular site, and all the people who used to want to come here,” said Dr. Jefferson.

For more information about Nick Gabaldon Day and the Black Surfers Collective, visit blacksurferscollective.org.

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