Irons Brothers Pine Tree Classic

When I was growing up, some different neighborhoods around town would sometimes have block parties during the spring and summer. One or two streets were blocked off with traffic cones and all the families would wander around, mingling, eating – just enjoying the atmosphere of what they might typically take for granted.

On April 28, Hanalei Bay hosted what has to be one of the biggest and most unique block parties in the country as the 11th annual Irons Brothers Pine Trees Classic was a go at the island’s iconic spot. It was a chance for everyone to come together along the sand, talk story, take the keiki out to enjoy some waves and watch the groms paddle and charge for the biggest audience they’ve ever had.

This was the second such event since Andy’s passing, and brother Bruce and the Irons ohana have continued to see it thrive and grow each year. Many sponsors’ tents lined the grass by the parking lots, and free food and goodie bags were provided for all the keiki, including some stylish Oakleys and hats that many still have plenty of time to grow into.

As I walked the beach – the same beach that will forever be linked with the Irons family – now 16 months removed from a massive, emotional memorial service, it was all smiles, howzits and handshakes.

The action in the water is the main attraction, but hardly the focus. What the day is really all about is showing the island’s spirit, camaraderie and continued interest in its young people. Though some of the older divisions actually are competing for waves, everyone is cheered from the beach and encouraged as each horn sounds to begin the heats.

While late April can be dicey when it comes to North Shore waves, this particular Saturday could not have been better for all involved. Small but rideable waves lapped up the shore for many of the smallest keiki to stand upon, usually getting a helpful boost from a parent. A bit farther out, contestants were getting consistent rights and lefts with sporadic sets rolling in, while still keeping rides short enough that they could quickly return to the center stage lineup.

With some just hoping to stand up once and others looking to gain a feeling of what a real contest heat may someday feel like, the day provided something for everyone.

The point driven home the most is that the kids are the stars. They’re cheered on the sand and in the water, they’re being watched by some very experienced and knowledgeable eyes, they’re being interviewed on camera following their heats, they’re getting trophies, awards and boards at day’s end and they’re being addressed by one of the island’s most legendary names. Theyre the heroes. They’re the rock stars.

I’m sure many of them went to sleep that night with visions of next year’s Classic already permeating their dreams.