Skip to Main Content

Surfer Statue.

Choppy Seas for Surfer Statue

The Botanical Society of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a southern California beach community, wanted to honor the area's surfer culture. It raised $120,000, hired a local surfer-sculptor who had trained in Florence, Italy, and got what it believed was a great bronze statue, which was unveiled on July 22, 2007. Named "Magic Carpet Ride," it depicts a teenage boy doing a "floater" on a broken wave. "The expression on his face," said Michael Clark, a member of the Surf Sculpture Committee, "is one of, 'Oh wow, I get it!'"

Not everyone in Cardiff agrees. Especially loud in their criticism are what Clark calls "middle-aged surfer guys" (by middle-aged, Clark explained, he meant anyone older than 29) who insist that the statue is an embarrassment. The surfer boy is too pansyish, they complain; his pose is dorky. By extension, the statue ennobles surfers who aren't surfers at all, but surfing-wannabes -- the accountants and insurance agents and tourists who buy thousand-dollar boards, come to Cardiff, and get in the way. The kind of people that real surfers hate more than anything.

Magic Carpet Ride statue.

Magic Carpet Ride has been pranked by its critics, which takes some effort given that it stands 16 feet in the air and is next to a busy highway. "They put a pink, pleated skirt on it with a bikini top and a Mexican wrestling mask on its head," Clark told us. "Then somebody tried to put a top hat and cane on it, but they got caught." Clark, however, accepts the protests in a laid-back, southern California kind of way. "Everybody in Cardiff prides themselves in having their own opinion," he told us. "I totally respect that."

Clark says that there are no plans to replace the statue or to modify it to please those who find it offensive. Magic Carpet Ride, all 10,000+ pounds of it, will remain just as it is. "Frankly, I'm just pretty okay with it," Clark told us. "We did what we could. No agendas."

Chesterfield Dr., Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA
I-5 exit 40, west on Birmingham Dr. for 1/2 mile until it ends, then south on San Elijo Ave. for three blocks, then right (west) on Chesterfield Drive. Statue dead ahead, in a recess on the west side of Hwy 101 at Chesterfield Dr.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Latest from Trunkations, the Blog

    More Blog

    My Sights

    My Sights on Roadside America

    Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip! ...Try My Sights

    Mobile Apps

    Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

    Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

    Sight of the Week

    Sight of the Week

    Punk Rock Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada (Dec 4-10, 2023)

    SotW Archive

    USA and Canada Tips and Stories

    More Sightings