I recently participated in a Paddle Out ceremony to say goodbye to a really good friend from Long Beach, NY. Keith Horn was an officer in the NYPD and a member of our crew since it began, he died from a rare and sudden terminal cancer in his Thymus gland. I played lacrosse throughout middle and high school with Keith, and was a teammate of his when he gave hockey a shot his senior year of high school. Keith was one of the most energetic and entertaining human beings I have ever known. His personality always lit up a room. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.
A paddle out was a great way to send off a friend as lively as Keith. Honored, I wore a wet-suit alongside uniformed NYPD Officers on Grand Beach and listened as people shared stories on land before we shared our stories on the water.
The Paddle Out ceremony started in mid-20th century Hawaii amongst the famous Waikiki beach boys. These guys were so connected to the ocean they wanted to be scattered in it. Originally the Hawaiians used outrigger canoes to form an honor circle and send off one of their own.
In the traditional way we paddled out on surfboards to say a few words, splash up some water and join hands to celebrate the tremendous spirit that Keith had while living.
Some rode waves and whooped, whistled and hollered to celebrate his life and others stayed silent and mourned spreading flowers on the shore. A huge Thank You to Lauren Moriarty, Tom O’toole, NYPD and the boys at Skudin Surf for arranging a safe and amazing celebration of Keith Horn’s life.