by Corky Carroll
Wow, it’s hard to believe that 25 years have gone by since Aaron Pai came up with the idea to put together a Hall of Fame for the sport of surfing. I remember it well. He called me and asked me to come down to his store, Huntington Surf ‘n Sport, saying he had something to talk to me about. It was a cold day in January 1967 as we stood in the parking garage under the store and he laid out his plan. He had his concrete guys on hand and they got my hands and feet in a slab right then and there. His vision was to recreate the same sort of thing as was done at Graumans Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
A week or so after that I helped him drag guys out of the Action Sports Retailer Trade Show in Long Beach and into the parking lot to do more of the original slabs. These were laid into the floor in a new section of the store that had a coffee counter and was to be the “longboard” section.
In 2002 the city approved plans to move the Surfers Hall of Fame into a plaza in front of the store surrounding a beautiful bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku. This was when Aaron began the yearly induction ceremonies that occur in conjunction with the big surfing championship held each year at the Huntington Beach Pier, directly across the street. That year the inductee’s were Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, Lisa Anderson and Joel Tudor.
One memory I have of previous induction ceremonies was when I used to be the Master of Ceremony. I always had these long and flowery induction speeches laid out, sincerely assuring Aaron Pai that I would would keep it G rated and not embarrass anybody. So, this one year we were inducting the great Tommy Curran. They had just got his hands and feet laid into the concrete and, while they were waiting for it to set up, I was doing my aforementioned long and flowery dedication to Tom. As he is one of my favorite surfers I was deep into a beautiful and sincere rap, all the while moving around and looking into the different sections of the crowd on hand. Suddenly, not watching where I was going, I stepped right into the fresh slab that Tom had just put his hands and feet into. OMG. One of those perfect “want to get away” moments. Thankfully it was still soft enough to quickly redo. My co M.C. that year was David Stanfield and he happily posed the question, “Gee Corky, do you HAVE to get your feet in here again?” After that they made plastic covers to go over the slabs while they were drying. Corky-proofed ‘em.
Aaron Pai describes this years ceremony as “a dream come true.” Having visited the famous Graumans Chinese Theater as a kid he reveled in the fact that he could put his own hands and feet into the concrete plaques that held the impressions of famous actors and celebrities. And now his vision of the Surfers Hall of Fame is firmly established, and at the 25th year mark he is able to share this with not only the world but also with three generations of the surfing Pai family. I love this part. EVERY member of the Pai family surfs. Mom, dad, all the kids and the kids wives and kids. How cool is that. And they are all part of this and will be on hand August 5th.
The ceremony is free to the public and a great event to witness. Tons of great surfers and surfing celebrities will be on hand to meet. If you are in the area and a surfer then this is a must do.
This years induction ceremony will take place on Friday, August 5th at 9 A.M. at the Surfers Hall of Fame plaza at the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, directly in front of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport. The inductees are big wave charger Peter Mel, legendary surf adventurer and boat caption Martin Daly and the surfing world’s favorite mom, Michele Turner. They will join a list of the biggest names in surfing history including Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Mike Doyle, George Downing, Linda Benson, Margo Oberg, Joyce Hoffman, Mickey Munoz, Phil Edwards, Tom Curran, Robert August, Bud Lamas, Shawn Tomson, Mark Richards, Hap Jacobs, Leroy Grannis, Gerry Lopez and more. With Peter, Martin and Michele the list will now stand at 90 members of the Surfers Hall of Fame.