Being part of the Andy Irons memorial yesterday was truly a magical experience. The beach was filled with people, probably three or four thousand deep. After a short prayer and service, the mass of people made their way to the water. It was surreal; thousands of friends, family, and fans made their way to the water and paddled into the center of Hanalei Bay on Andy's beloved island of Kauai. Thousands gathered into a tight formation and a moment of silence was held. Then, it was a deafening roar of cheers for Andy, with the crowd chanting, "A .I., A.I., A.I." and splashing the water. Above the roar a helicopter dropped ti leaves and flowers from open doors on both sides.
Andy's parents, along with Bruce, Mia, and Lyndie Irons floated in the center of the crowd on a boat decorated with lei's and flowers. Bruce said a few words, and the crowd roared again.
It must have been the biggest paddle out ever, and the feeling in the water was magical. The crowd stayed in the water for about an hour, then came to the beach and enjoyed speeches, music, Hawaiian dancing, and a feast like I've never seen. The after party was filled with revelers telling stories about Andy, laughing and remembering good times with him.
The whole day was an experience I'll never forget. They came from all over the world to pay respects, and for one day, the Island of Kauai was the epicenter of it all. Rest in peace Andy, you will be missed.—Chris Coté
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