As Flagler Beach City Commissioner Eric Cooley enters the third year of organizing the Hang 8 Dog Surfing competition, alongside Mayor Suzie Johnston, he approached the commissioners to seek an exception to hold the event in an area of the beach where dogs are currently not allowed.

Cooley proposed allowing dogs to be allowed in the area near the S 5th St walkover and the pier, where most surf events in the city take place. The proposed area offers favorable surfing conditions, essential for the safety and enjoyment of both human and canine participants. Holding the event in a different, dog-friendly area of the beach would pose logistical challenges, including parking, safety hazards, and lack of awareness among participants and the public.

Cooley emphasized safety measures during the event, including appropriate signage delineating the dog-friendly area and ensuring that the beach is left in pristine condition after the event. He highlighted the collaborative efforts with the mayor to maintain safety and awareness throughout the competition.

He added, “I do have a side note, unfortunately, Wednesday was not able to make it tonight. So, Wednesday is not happy with her dad because her dad got tied up at work and was running behind and did not have time to bring her out tonight and could not work out the logistics of helping run the meeting and watch the dog at the same time, especially a high maintenance surfing dog. Wednesday will be out there for the surf competition for everybody to meet and she will be at First Fridays.”

Testimonials from community members emphasized the positive impact of the Hang Eight Dog Surfing event on Flagler Beach’s reputation. Cooley shared anecdotes of how the event has garnered attention from national media outlets, showcasing the city’s unique charm and community spirit.

The commissioners unanimously passed the proposal to allow dogs in the restricted area for the duration of the Hang 8 Dog Surfing Competition.