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Nick Gabaldón Day 2019

June 1 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


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Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951) was a pioneering surfer of African American and Mexican American descent. He was the first documented surfer of color in the Santa Monica Bay. Gabaldón’s passion, athleticism, discipline, love and respect for the ocean live on as the quintessential qualities of the California surfer.

In 2013, with the help of African American historian, Alison Rose Jefferson, Heal the Bay joined forces with the Black Surfers Collective to amplify and expand their prior Nick Gabaldón efforts.

Nick Gabaldón Day in its current form is now in its 7th year and will be held on June 1, 2019. This innovative celebration provides an amazing opportunity for broadening outreach, action, and education to connect Angelenos with their cultural, historical and natural heritage.

Nick Gabaldón Day 2019 Event Schedule

  • 9am Welcome Ceremony at Bay Street Beach & Memorial Paddle Out for Nick
  • 10am-1pm Free surf lessons, beach exploration and cleanup. Surfers must register in advance
  • 12:30 Raffle at the beach
  • 1pm-5pm The Nick Gabaldón Day celebration continues at Heal the Bay’s Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier (Aquarium Admission is free in honor of Nick!*)

*The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium will be free for all visitors in honor of Nick on Saturday, June 1st thanks to a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy and the Wilderness Society.

*Rusty’s on the Santa Monica Pier will be offering a special $5 Nick Gabaldon “Malibu Surfrider” cocktail all day. Cheers!

Event History

The shoreline and waters at Bay Street in Santa Monica were an active hub of African American beach life during the Jim Crow era. This beach was popular in the 1900s to early 1960s among African Americans, who sought to avoid hostile and racial discrimination they might experience at other southland beaches. Racial discrimination and restrictive covenants prevented African Americans from buying property throughout the Los Angeles region, but their community’s presence and agency sustained their oceanfront usage in Santa Monica.

the inkwell

In 2008 the City of Santa Monica officially recognized the “Inkwell” and Nick Gabaldón with a landmark monument at Bay Street and the Oceanfront Walk.

Nick Gabaldón Day introduces young and old from inland communities to the magic of the coast through free surf and ocean safety lessons; beach ecology exploration; and a history lesson about a man who followed his passion against all odds.

The Black Surfers Collective, Heal the Bay’s Aquarium, Surf Bus Foundation, the Santa Monica Conservancy, The Wilderness Society and other organizations partner on the Nick Gabaldón Day experience to reach out to families in under-served communities to inspire, engage and empower them through meaningful educational programming. We are helping to build personal and shared experiences with cultural, historical and nature heritage and civic engagement that are the foundation of stewardship, and the development of the next generation of civic, heritage conservation, and environmental leaders.

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Event Sponsors


Event Partners

For more information on partnering or sponsorship please contact: Jeff Williams, Black Surfers Collective, ghettosurfn@gmail.com or Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay 310.451.1500 ext. 116 or mmccarthy@healthebay.org



June 1
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Event Category:

Heal the Bay’s Calendar features Aquarium, Beach, Outreach, Community Science and Youth events in Los Angeles County.

Want to quickly register for an event you see listed on our calendar? Hop over to Eventbrite and complete your registration. Please note, only events that require registration are listed on Eventbrite.

Interested in doing a private beach cleanup? Check out our Suits on the Sand and Adopt-A-Beach experiences.

Wanna roll up your sleeves and become a Heal the Bay Volunteer? We have five distinct volunteer programs that we offer. Each program has a specific training associated with it, as well as its own volunteer roles. Aquarium – Aquarium volunteers work at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. They support various public programs from interpreting at touch tanks to ensuring the success of private events. They also attend outreach events and represent Heal the Bay all over Los Angeles. Beach – Beach Captain volunteers support our large Nothin’ But Sand beach cleanups that occur every third Saturday of the month. They are also involved in other beach programs like Suits on the Sand, and have the opportunity to attend Coastal Cleanup Day Site Captain training. Outreach – These volunteers take Heal the Bay knowledge all over Los Angeles. Speakers Bureau volunteers present in classrooms, in business meetings, at beach cleanups, festivals and more. Community Science – MPA Watch Volunteers survey marine protected areas (MPAs) in Malibu and Palos Verdes. They monitor, collect data, and get to walk along some of California’s most stunning beaches. Youth – Middle and high school students register their school club with Club Heal the Bay to be part of a larger environmental advocacy community. In return, clubs receive recognition and rewards for their civic action projects. To get started as a Heal the Bay volunteer, attend a Volunteer Orientation.

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