“All I know is today I’m going to eat dinner with twenty people I recognize and twenty people I don’t,” Randall Hill comments as he makes last-minute Thanksgiving feast preparations for the wayward souls who spend the holiday on the North Shore. For the last fifteen years, Mr. and Mrs. Hill, along with their children Randall and Raquel, have opened their home to members of the original Momentum generation, including Kelly Slater, the Weatherleys, the Malloys, Brock Little, Matty Liu, Taylor Steele, Ross Williams, and the late Todd Chesser, among others. On Turkey Day, Mrs. Hill acts as a sort of surrogate mother to all of “her boys,” cooking them dinner and reminiscing about old times.[IMAGE 1]
That morning, just like every Thanksgiving morning for the last five years, Jeannie Chesser held the Todd Chesser Memorial Surf Contest at a secret reef, now known as Chesser’s Point, to celebrate the life of her son Todd, who passed away while surfing one of the outer reefs nearby.
The Hills’ house is a kind of shrine to Todd and the boys who’ve called this their home away from home. One wall is filled with photos of Todd, and another with all of Mrs. Hill’s boys. There is no other place on the entire North Shore that has more love and camaraderie as the Hills’ on Thanksgiving afternoon.
Before the meal, the attendees give speeches in memory of Todd, and there isn’t a dry eye in the house. Then the winner of the contest is announced. This year the recipient of the Perpetual Cheesehead is Pat O’Connell. The award for photo slut of the year (voted by everyone in attendance by secret ballet) is Benji Weatherley.
After all the awards are distributed, the food line forms, and some of the world’s most famous surfers break bread together. During the meal everyone talks story and shares memories of Todd and the days when all the boys slept on the Hills’ living-room floor. As the guests depart, they leave with more than the usual turkey-induced coma–they take with them the true feeling of the aloha spirit.–Steve Sherman