North Shore welcomes world surfing champ John John Florence home

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

NORTH SHORE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Up and down the North Shore, signs are posted welcoming John John Florence home.

And on Thursday, students left their classrooms and people took off work to line Kamehameha Highway for a special surprise homecoming celebration for the world champion surfer.

Florence is Hawaii's first surfing world champ since Andy Irons, who won the World Surf League title 12 years ago. Florence clinched the title last month in Portugal.

He said Thursday his accomplishment didn't really sink in until he saw the crowds of people welcoming him home Thursday.

"Oh my gosh, it's amazing! I don't think winning the world title really sank in until I got home just now. To see all this is crazy. I never could have ever dreamed of something like this," Florence said.

His mother, Alexandra, said she was "speechless" at the show of support from her neighbors and friends.

"I just wanna say thanks to everyone for doing this. It's really endearing and really taken to heart," she said.

Even Mother Nature put on her best for Florence.

On Thursday, a monster swell rolled into the North Shore, and the first day of the pro surf season kicked off with the HIC Pro at Sunset Beach. The event is on standby for Friday. Contest officials will check the weather and wave conditions and make the call at 8 a.m.

"The waves are massive. Kind of have some wind chop to it. But the surfers are killing it right now. So it's a ton of fun to see," said Florida resident Justin Fricke.

Fricke's brother, Adam, said he's watched Florence surfing for years and "and seeing him win the world championship and have a little homecoming parade for him was really cool to see in person. He's a great role model. Can definitely look up to somebody like that."

Former-world champ Sunny Garcia put on a spectacular performance for the crowd. The six-time Triple Crown champ says he's excited about Florence's future.

"We've been watching John John for a long time. To finally see him coming to his own is pretty incredible and at such a young age and I'm sure he's gonna bring a lot more world titles to Hawaii," Garcia said.

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