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Wade in the Water – Documentary Screening

“Wade in the Water, a Journey into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture,” screens February 23 at Park Cinemas, 1100 Pine St, Paso Robles. Tickets are $15 and can be ordered online or purchased at the box office. Doors open at 6 p.m. The film screens from 6:30-8 p.m.

This film by creative director and longtime surfer, David Mesfin, features Paso Robles local Tony Corley, founder of the Black Surfing Association. Reclaiming the 1000-year-old tradition of black surfing, the film braids historical accounts with modern-day testimonials, dismantles the racial barriers of conventional surf culture, delves into the overlooked history of black surfing’s legacy, honoring the current movement, and inspires the next generation of black surfers.

Tony Corely was born in Paso Robles and used to visit Cayucos and the beach with his family. Corely began experimenting with surfing when he was 12 when a friend from Southern California moved to the area. The two started body surfing the Cayucos beach waves on rented air rafts. By the time he was 14, he had acquired his first surfboard from a fellow surfer and by around 18 had purchased his first of around 30 boards he would come to own.

In 1974, Corley founded the Black Surfing Association after writing a letter to Surfer Magazine, calling for black surfers to unite and support surfing. Since then, the organization has been bringing black surfers together in California, and around the nation and world, celebrating both the waves and the long-ancient history of black surfers.

“It’s extremely gratifying for Tony to bring his surfing back home,” said his wife, Rose, on Tony’s behalf. “He is very proud to represent the black surfing community and the black community in general, and Paso Robles.” The Black Surfing Association supports youth swimming lessons and junior lifeguard programs.

For more information about the documentary, visit the Wade in the Water Project website. Screening of the film is sponsored by the Paso Robles Historical Society, Kahunas, and Alliance Board Company.