When it comes to the great city of Chicago, Illinois, the first things that usually come to mind are windy weather, baseball and phenomenal jazz. But thanks to a pair of renegade eco-activists, surfing may one day be added to that list.
Former pro surfer James Pribram and Surfrider Foundation’s Lake Michigan Chapter Co-Chair Vince Deur are being hailed as the heroes responsible for lifting a 30-year ban on all flotation devices throughout city-wide beaches. The ordinance was initially launched following the tragic death of three young girls and an inflatable raft.
The road to victory was a long and arduous one, filled with protests, police standoffs, and the arrest of waterman Jack Flynn after he paddle out in sizeable storm surf one cold and rainy December day. But the proverbial tides finally changed last month when Pribram and Flynn joined local surfers David Vanderveen, Vince Deur, Jim Hoop and Ryan Gerard for a “paddle out” in front of Chicago’s legendary ‘Miracle Mile’. After almost two hours of stand-up paddling, police boats arrived, but the surfers were long gone.
“While our little stand up paddle-out was just a small step towards taking a stand for change, I look forward to sharing the importance of keeping surfing clean, legal and a choice for all local surfers and future surfers,” said Pribram. Deur added, “We are very pleased with the decision of the Parks district to allow surfing in the city of Chicago…it’s a great opportunity to prove ourselves to the CPD and the community that we are respectful stewards of the beaches…”
I can only imagine the flood of fine Mid-Western folks amped to give hangin’ ten a try. More power to ‘em, but they’re going to have to stock up on some serious neoprene. Have you seen Swell’s selection lately? No wonder we’re #1.