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Surfing star Slater to get key to city

He will receive Key to Surf City on a plaque for publicizing Huntington Beach as a surfing destination.

June 15, 2011|By Michael Miller, michael.miller@latimes.com

Surfer Kelly Slater may hail from Florida, but if he ever had any doubt that he's welcome in Huntington Beach, he'll know for sure Tuesday.

That evening, Mayor Joe Carchio plans to present the 10-time world champion with the Key to Surf City.

According to spokeswoman Laurie Frymire, the city gives out the key only two or three times a year, with Miss Huntington Beach an annual recipient. The key is six inches long and made of metal, with the Huntington Beach logo embedded on it.

While the key has previously been presented on a cord for wearing, Slater will receive his on a plaque. Carchio said the city wanted to honor Slater for helping publicize it as a surfing haven.

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"We don't give a whole bunch of keys to the city out to people, but it was my idea that we should at least give it to Kelly for everything he's done over the years to promote the US Open of Surfing contest," he said. "It's almost like Kelly Slater is Derek Jeter in the world of surfing. There isn't anybody larger than Kelly. It's pretty exciting for us."

Slater will be the third key recipient this year, after Miss Huntington Beach and Mr. Huntington Beach.

"Huntington has been a very big part of my growing up," Slater said in a release. "I spent endless hours as a teenager surfing the north side throughout the summer and south side during events. I used to change in the back of Chuck Dent surf shop and run through all the shops with my friends and my brother in between surfs.

"I had my first chance to surf against my hero, Tom Curren, at age 13 or 14 here in the Katin event. The city is a big part of surfing and so much of its history. I'm honored to be recognized here amongst so many of surfing's greats over the years."

Slater, who was officially honored last year by the House of Representatives, also founded the nonprofit Kelly Slater Foundation, which supports environmental and social causes. He has a been a common contestant over the years at Huntington Beach surfing events.

The ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. during the weekly Surf City Nights street fair at Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, with surfer Pete Townend serving as emcee. The event is co-hosted by the city and the Huntington Beach Downtown Business Improvement District and sponsored by Jack's Surfboards and Duke's Huntington Beach.

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