Molly Rowlee

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Aug 22, 2009

Molly’s Paddle Out

To check out the images above, you can just hit the play/pause on the right for a slideshow, or to see specific albums, press the icon all the way to the left. To enlarge an image, just click on it. See the much larger set of images on Flickr.

August 22nd was the big day to celebrate Molly's life. Lots of people helped to plan and make sure Molly's party was the biggest, best party we could throw for her, and it happened to fall on what would have been her 6th birthday. We didn't know what to expect with Hurricane Bill on the way, but everything turned out perfectly.

A traditional Hawaiian paddle out ceremony was planned to celebrate Molly's life. By 6:45 people were already arriving, and when the event kicked off there were probably around 800 people on the beach. It was a humbling showing of community, which you can see here (click to see it larger):

The day started off with some moving words from Ralph Fatello and then Buck, talking about Molly, the history behind the paddle out tradition, and about the incredible community in Hampton, NH. While the crowd was organized, flowers were placed on all the surfboards laid on the beach. Lead up until, and during the speaking, it was eerily quiet. When it was time to head out, people grabbed their boards and took the flowers with them (mostly in their teeth) and few people had leis as well.

The paddle out took place in the little cove in front of the Fish Shacks, at the north end of the Wall towards the bath house and Cinnamon Rainbows. This area was mellow enough that even with some hurricane swell it was an easy paddle out, and lots of groms were able to paddle out and join in. The goal was to have everyone form in the shape of a heart, found in Molly's logo, with the kids closer to the beach to make it a little easier for them. It was awesome how many kids took part. Meighan and Keiran were in an outrigger that was paddled out into the center of the heart, with a pink Molly flag hanging from the outrigger.

About 300 people paddled out, and it was incredibly organized quiet, not what you'd normally expect with 300 people around you in the water. Waves were calm, and as things got going the morning fog lifted and the sky cleared up as soon as everyone was in motion. At this point, it turned into one of the most spiritual, emotional events many of us have been to.

Ralph said some words, each of them followed by 300 hoots, each pass getting louder and louder. After some more words, people started adding their thoughts. Because the event took place on Molly's sixth birthday, someone yelled out "Happy birthday, Molly" which turned into the entire heart singing happy birthday to her, easily audible from the beach. There were lots of cheers, lots of hoots, lots of tears, and even a few laughs. At the end of the ceremony, Buck and Meighan threw their flowers into the water, followed by the rest of the crowd, leaving an ocean full of flowers to paddle through to come back in.



Once the the crowd started making its way back in, some of those people stayed out to get some of the really fun, mellow waves that were rolling in. Tara and I set up camp selling Molly items in the parking lot with Alex Birch, and a small line built up. Once things slowed down, we made our way to the party at KB's, who generously hosted us behind their shop, and had a line out the door for people ordering bagels. The people at KB's can make you feel like family, and as someone not lucky enough to live in Hampton it's the only place we get breakfast when we're in town. There was a good turnout at KB's while other's finished getting Buck and Meg's place ready for the party. At this point the weather was still holding...

As things ramped up in the Rowlees' neighborhood, the sky started getting darker and a little more ominous. Tents were set up just in case of rain, and they came in handy. There was a tremendous amount of donated food under the big tent, with Matt and Kristen Warth cooking on the grill. There was another tent where kids were making small surfboard-shaped cards to remember Molly, which were hung from a larger surfboard cutout.

After a little while the sky opened up into a total downpour. Un-phased, people found tents to ride out the rain and eventually the sky cleared up, the sun came out, and everything dried up quickly. The different bands (Quill, Todo Bien, King's Highway, Big Handsome Daddy) set up by the garage, and people gathered around to listen while lots of little kids played in the yard or listened to the music. We set up a tent to sell Molly items, and ended up taking in $4000 for the day, so thanks to everyone that kicked in and bought stuff to support the Molly Fund.

Later in the day, Amanda Wormann and Emmet Manning from Burton presented Buck with a custom-made Molly board that was a total surprise to him. It used the beautiful shot Brian Nevins took of a beach tribute to Molly, with her logo and photo on the topsheet and her logo on a pink base. The board is perfect, and gave an emotional Buck another chance to grab the microphone and give more appreciation of the support the Rowlee family has received, and also appreciation of the community.

There couldn't have been a better way celebrate Molly's short life, and there are too many people to thank for the support to call out here - so to everyone that took part, thank you. Everything about this day represents what the Molly Fund is all about - it's community coming together and giving back to the people who need it. It was also a reminder of the incredible strength that Buck and Meg have shown and continued to show throughout the day, and their ability to find positivity in such a tragic situation.

Because it's the community that's making all of this so special, and we want that community to take part here and send us a write-up of your experience or any other photos you want to contribute. If you click the icon at the lower left of the slideshow at the top of the page, you'll see an album of contributed images. Also make sure you check out the much larger set on Flickr. This page will get updated with any contributed content from the event. In the meantime, here's some other links to check out about the party:

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