US Open of Surfing 2013 - Huntington Beach, CA

The Sweeter Side of Surf City; Huntington Beach Riot Notwithstanding

Surf Sculpture - Huntington Beach, CA

My sister refused to join us at Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California. Her husband, an Orange County native, warned that it was going to be a “zoo,” and didn’t think it would be a good environment for their young children. But even he didn’t expect to wake up to headlines about riots, looting, and mayhem.

Of course, I didn’t listen to my brother-in-law and went anyway with my thirteen-year-old son, Alex. Since 1996, when we moved to the city of Orange with a Yellow Lab and 2-month-old Kayla, I’ve visited Huntington Beach many times with my family. It used to be the only beach where we could let our dogs run free, and more recently, my kids have come to partake of the legendary Surf City waves.

US Open of Surfing 2013 - Huntington Beach, CA

US Open of Surfing – Huntington Beach, CA

We arrived late to the US Open: the surfing events were over, and all that was left were the skate awards and post-event wrap-up. But there was plenty to see anyway. Skateboarders who looked like they knew what they were doing were taking final runs on the concrete bowl.

Girl skateboarding on concrete bowl at Van Doren Invitational in Huntington Beach, CA

Among the surfers tackling the evening waves, a few looked like they would have done well in competition.

Surfer riding a wave at Huntington Beach, California.

Some of the sights we could have done with out. Evangelical nuts and teens whose skin advertised more than “Free Hugs” were particularly cringe-worthy.

US Open of Surfing mob

But there was little that gave me pause. Granted we were walking away when things turned ugly. We didn’t see riots, looting, or the “white culture of lawlessness” shown in this Gawker video.

Instead, we saw impromptu concerts on the Huntington Beach Pier…

Impromptu concert - Huntington Beach pier

and well-toned young men waging a fierce bout of Spike Ball, next to others playing volleyball or tossing a football.

Spike Ball - Huntington Beach

Our evening ended on a sweet note over a delicious slice of Hula Pie at Duke’s Restaurant, named for Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, the Hawaiian Olympic champion who introduced the surfing to the mainland.

Hula Pie at Duke's Restaurant in Huntington Beach, CA.

Although we heard the deafening blares of police cars and helicopters arriving on the scene, all that was drowned out by the magnificence of a setting sun over the Huntington Beach pier.  A fitting end to a memorable evening with my son.

Sunset - Huntington Beach - CA-1

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