Surf Fest kicks off in Cocoa Beach

Hundreds of surfers expected to participate in 28th annual festival

COCOA BEACH, Fla. - The 28th annual NFK Rich Salick Pro Am Surf Festival in Cocoa Beach is expected to draw hundreds of surfers and thousands of spectators Labor Day weekend as pro and amateur surfers compete.

Vanina Walsh, 16, is ready to surf at the event for her second year.

"It's a fun event, it's one of my favorite ones in Florida," said Walsh. "It's just really fun waves and I love competing."

Co-founder Phil Salick said they may see crowds as large as 150,000 over the three days of competition.

"It'll be packed to the rafters," said Salick.

The event also includes the popular team event where participants can ride just about anything.

"They'll have teams where they have a pool or a make shift kayak," said Salick.

Proceeds from Surf Fest go to the National Kidney Foundation and over the years, the event has raised $6,000,000.

This year Salick hopes to raise another $150,000.

"One hundred percent goes to our patients, which we're real proud of because it takes 300 volunteers to run this thing," said Salick.

Frank Shear has come to Surf Fest several times over the years and said he'll be back out again this weekend.

"It brings a good crowd," said Shear. "Thousands of people, music, surfers -- it's a giant party."

Cocoa Beach is waiving parking fees on two streets during the event and will temporarily rename those two streets for the next three days.

One of them will honor Rick Salick, the co-founder who died last year after multiple kidney surgeries.

The first surf competition starts Saturday at 9 a.m.

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