The surfer statue along West Cliff Drive has become a Santa Cruz landmark over the past three decades. Last week, community members gathered around the beloved figure for a 30th-anniversary celebration.
The ceremony, hosted by the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society and the city of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department, included a live band, historic surfboards and classic woodie wagons.
Renowned surfboard shaper and president of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society Bob Pearson said a few words about the statue and historic boards and introduced an assortment of speakers. Surfing “patriarchs” Bob Rittenhouse Sr. and Harry Mayo—97 and 98 years old, respectively—attended, and Santa Cruz Mayor Sonja Brunner proclaimed May 23 as Santa Cruz Surfing Statue Day.
“It is so symbolic and has become so iconic for Santa Cruz,” said Mayor Brunner. “And I just love watching it throughout the year with the different iterations—pumpkin head, t-shirts…”
The figure donned a Hawaiian lei for the ceremony.
The 18-foot-tall bronze statue was inspired by the members of the 1936 Santa Cruz Surfing Club. Members Bob Rittenhouse and Doug Thorne formed a committee in 1987 to create a statue after the death of club member Bill Lidderdale Jr.
To get the sculpture approved, artists had to engineer it to withstand an 8.0 earthquake and 100 mph winds. Thomas Marsh designed the figure; Bill Curtis designed the base, and Bill Grace and David Steward shaped a replica 11-foot redwood surfboard used for casting.
It was installed in May 1992 with a plaque, “This monument is dedicated to all surfers—past, present and future.”