There was major surfing excitement on the North Shore Thursday.
As the HIC Pro kicked off at Sunset Beach with solid 10- to 12-foot swells, Hawaii’s own world champion returned home.
A surprise welcome greeted Haleiwa native John John Florence as crowds gathered for an impromptu parade down Kamehameha Highway.
The 22-year-old waved a Hawaiian flag as fans chanted his name.
Just last week, Florence clinched the 2016 World Surf League championship title with a victory at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal in Peniche.
It’s the first time a Hawaii surfer has held the crown since the late Andy Irons in 2004.
“I’m happy that he won this year and I’m stoked for him,” said 2000 world champion Sunny Garcia. “I’m pretty sure he is going to win a lot more titles, so I’m happy for Hawaii, stoked. You know, we have Carissa (Moore) who has been carrying that torch for awhile, and now we have John John. So Hawaii is looking good in the future.”