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  • Andrew Cowell


They called it sidewalk surfing. The skateboard began as an experiment, something to do when the surf went flat. Find a piece of wood, a 2x4 worked best. Disassemble your sister’s metal roller-skates. Nail the wheels to the 2x4, and presto changeo, skateboarding was born. Unknowingly, this search for fun would ripen into a new action sport.

Hobie’s skateboard dreams began with Baron Hilton, of Hilton Hotels. Hobie partnered with Hilton’s orange juice company, Vita-Pakt, on a new type of promotion, box stamps. Their coordinated scheme aimed at encouraging parents and children to collect these stamps to earn Hobie’s first skateboard, the “Super Surfer.” After 1954, the “Super Surfer” and skateboarding would evolve into many forms. Changes from clay to urethane wheels allowed the rider to expand what was possible, from rolling along the sidewalk to riding vertical in pools. Today, skateboarding is a full-fledged sport looking to enter the Olympics, but much of its popularity would not exist without the visionary advancements of Hobie Alter.

Editor’s note: This piece was written to accompany the Orange County Airport’s exhibit of The Life and Accomplishments of Hobie Alter.

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