Beaches may allow surfing this summer

May 22, 2009 6:36:55 AM PDT
You may not know it, but Chicago has its share of surfers. And now there's word from City Hall that their sport is likely to be allowed off city beaches for the first time. The Chicago Park District's apparent change of heart comes after years of lobbying by surfing's passionate practitioners, a group in the thousands who don't need salt to pursue the perfect wave.

He's a businessman and an environmentalist. But first and foremost, he's a surfer. And when the Great Lakes is your playpen, you deal with the incongruous surroundings.

"We've got this huge body of water that people have been referring to as an inland sea for centuries. It really can kick up some big waves," said Ryan Gerard, Third Coast Surf Shop.

Gerard Runs the closest full service surf shop to Chicago, in New Buffalo, Michigan. He says with nearly 11,000 miles of coastline, the great lakes are a hot surfing destination. He and Vince Duer, the maker of a film on Great Lakes surfing say it is time for Chicago to allow their sport from city beaches. Members of the Surfrider Foundation met this week with the park district.

Officials say perhaps by Memorial Day a number of Chicago beaches will allow surfing including: - Kathy Osterman
- Montrose avenue
- 57th Street
- Rainbow
- 40th Street (year round)

"This is Chicago not California so it's new to us but that's okay. It is not that we can't handle it but we really need to make sure all of the safety concerns are handled," said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, Chicago Park District.

But it is the passion of people who don wetsuits to be on the water even in a Chicago winter that appears to be winning over skeptical authorities. They say they often save people on the water. So perhaps by Labor Day more people will understand the Zen that sets this sport apart.

"It's unlike any other sport out there. It is so dynamic, every wave is different," said Gerard. "It is an addiction, really, for some people they might call it a religion... it really is something special for a lot of people."

That new beach at 40 Street has not been officially named but city officials have identified it as the jumping off point for year-round surfing.


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