NewsPositively San Diego


Pacific Beach rollerblading legend 'Slomo' celebrates 80th birthday

Hundreds of locals showed up to surprise John Kitchin on his 80th birthday — skating with him on the boardwalk.
Slomo san diego rollerblader
Posted at 6:02 PM, Apr 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-14 17:07:27-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — If you’ve been to the Pacific Beach boardwalk, you’ve probably seen John Kitchin — better known to some by the moniker “Slomo" — gracefully gliding along on his rollerblades.

The local legend, always clad in knee pads and sunglasses, celebrated his 80th birthday this past weekend.

“How often do people say hello?” asked ABC 10News reporter Madison Weil.

“It’s really funny… I’ll go to the grocery store, and I’ll stop and look around, and there are three or four people that are staring at me,” said Kitchin, laughing.

Kitchin is a retired neurologist who has lived in San Diego since 1976. For 24 years, he’s been skating on the boardwalk almost daily.

“The feeling gets better the slower you get,” Kitchin explained. “All of the surfers… people who are into sliding sports… they become addicted to that feeling.”

In his more than two decades gliding along the boardwalk, Kitchin says he’s seen it all.

“You learn an amazing amount,” he said. “I’ve seen kids now that have gotten old enough to be married.”

But what the rollerblading icon didn't expect was hundreds of people showing up to skate with him on his 80th birthday.

“People were coming out with signs saying 'happy birthday' and little kids were saying 'hey Slomo!'” he said.

Many people came dressed in his signature blue top, hat, glasses and sunscreen.

“I didn’t have any idea how fanatically enthusiastic the young people were,” he said, laughing. “A mob of crazy people! I really… I don’t understand why people love Slomo so much.”

ABC 10News told him it’s simple: He’s an inspiration to San Diegans of all ages.

“One thing is we all have the choice to believe that we live in the best possible world," he said. "And that is a choice."

If you want to keep up with Slomo, you can follow him on Instagram @slomosandiego or simply say hello on the boardwalk.