Catch a Wave in Chicago

Park District considers legalizing surfing off Chicago's lakefront

By Peggy Cassidy
|  Thursday, May 14, 2009  |  Updated 10:20 AM CDT
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Get ready Chicago, surf's up! Park District Supt. Timothy Mitchell agreed the district would begin to take steps to allow surfing at four beaches as early as Memorial Day.

Eviliss Rivera

Get ready Chicago, surf's up! Park District Supt. Timothy Mitchell agreed the district would begin to take steps to allow surfing at four beaches as early as Memorial Day.

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It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Chicago's outdoor fun, but the Sun-Times is reporting that the city offers some good waves in the fall and winter months.

For the first time in more than 20 years, the Chicago Park District is taking steps to make surfing at as many as five local beaches legal. The paper reports that the official reversal of a rule banning surfing could come as soon as this summer. But, surfing experts say summer's not the best time to hit the waves here, actually.

"It's fairly nice in October. You get the first storms, and the water isn't that cold yet," said Drew Kampion, American editor for The Surfer's Path magazine.

That publication has closely followed efforts to legalize surfing in Chicago which has been (who knew) illegal.

"For decades, Chicago has banned all flotation devices from their beaches since a deadly tragedy occurred with three girls on an inflatable raft," the magazine reported in December.

With the park district considering off-season surfing at select city beaches, surfing advocates are anxious to be part of the city's plan.

"Now that we have a toe in the water, so to speak, we want to do it right and keep a good thing going," said Vince Deur, founder of the Surfrider Foundation's Lake Michigan chapter and a documentary filmmaker whose most recent film, "Unsalted," is about surfing the Great Lakes.

"Surfing is not a crime," he told the Sun-Times.

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