Making a splash: California gets ready for annual Blessing of the Waves

A preview from the Los Angeles Times:

Surfing luminaries and religious figures will converge in Huntington beach on Sunday for an unusual event.

At the fifth annual Blessing of the Waves, an interfaith service sponsored by the Diocese of Orange, Tom Morey — the inventor of the Boogie Board — will represent the Baha’i Faith. Singer-songwriter Summer Watson, who has toured California and Hawaii to promote the Toes on the Nose clothing brand, will play a solo acoustic set.

And Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean — whose song “Surf City” gave Huntington Beach its official nickname — has recorded an audio greeting to help publicize the event and plans to attend for the fifth year in a row.

When the songs and speeches are all done, the crowd will stand at the water’s edge to sing a final song: “God Bless America.” Then, anyone who’s willing will paddle out into the blue, immersing themselves in the body that’s given Southern California a key to so much of its culture.

“It’s a way of getting together once a year and saying, ‘Thank you for this amazing resource,'” said Dan McCue, a spokesman for the diocese, who stressed that the event is intended for anyone who feels a spiritual connection to the ocean and not merely surfers.

His group, he said, got the idea for the event from a simple phenomenon: Over and over again, they noticed beachgoers standing by the waterline in the morning holding hands before the waves. The diocese summoned local leaders from several faiths, and the first annual event in 2008 drew about 400 people.

Since then, the crowds have grown to more than 2,000. Among those expected to attend this year are representatives from the Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Zoroastrian communities.

Keeping with the ceremony’s interfaith theme, McCue assembled an eclectic lineup of musical acts this year. In addition to Watson, who will perform work from her new album, “Something New,” the program features a Pacific Islander choir based out of St. Justin Martyr Roman Catholic Church in Anaheim and the Christian rock band Tim Reid & Friends.

Read the rest.

Photo: The faithful gather for the Blessing of the Waves ceremony in 2008. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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