In a fitting tribute to the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, an ecumenical service and beach mass was held at National Boulevard Long Beach on Sunday. Surrounded by members of the fire department, police department and military who were all in dress uniforms, lifeguards and surfers from all walks of life, honored the fallen of 9/11 with a traditional Paddle Out.
Long Beach High School students had done their part to commemorate 9/11 by making black armbands. The armbands carried the names of the 347 Long Beach residents who were victims of the 9/11.
The beach service was in the shadows of the Quiksilver Pro contest site and a number of professional surfers took part in today's service.
"I'm just glad to be here and be part of it," said Hawaiian surfer Fred Patacchia, "Paddle outs are something we do all the time in Hawaii and regardless whether you knew the person or not, you always feel the energy and the love when you join in. Today I just wanted to be down here and be part of it. I got Ronnie Gies name here on my right arm, I never knew him, or her, but it's humbling to be part of today's memorial, celebrate who they were and have a chance to remember them." While the memorial was being said, over 350 surfers of all ages lined up along the shoreline holding surfboards of all shapes and sizes. The lifeguards who had accepted the floral wreath from the fire department and military representatives led the procession carrying it past the line of surfers who had created a guard of honor. As the procession of junior lifeguards, police, fire and military personnel marched passed, the surfers tapped their boards in solemn salute creating a haunting sound to the somber occasion.
One of the East Coast's representative in the ASP Top 34, Damien Hobgood, was still in Long Beach and joined the paddle out.
"I feel honored to be part of today's ceremony," he said back on the beach, "Today is all about patriotism and bringing the whole country together and paying tribute to real heroes. It's the least I could do."
Saturday, Kelly Slater and Travis Logie joined the FDNY local firefighters and NYPD police officers in a surfing event called the Bravest vs. Finest Surf Contest. In small surf Slater led the FDNY Fire Fighters team to victory and was presented with a FDNY Engine 255 t-shirt.
"My Mom's a retired firefighter and my step-Dad is one so I felt honored to represent the Fire Department in the contest," said Slater about Saturday's event.
Considering the timely completion of the Quiksilver Pro New York, this weekend's events at the Long Beach contest site brought an appropriate and respectful finish to this history-making surfing contest and allowed those surfers still in town to join in and pay their respects to the many local heroes who were victims of 9/11.