Can holiday spirit be measured? The answer is yes. Guinness World Records recognizes numerous holiday-themed accomplishments, including epic decorating efforts, dynamic cooking demonstrations, and even the grandest gathering of people wearing Santa hats. But up to this point, there’s no official world record for the largest lot of surfing St. Nicks. Maybe a challenge of global proportions will make the “ultimate authority on record-breaking” take note.
In Cocoa Beach, Florida, the hometown of 11-time world champ Kelly Slater, hundreds of jolly old elves with surf gear in tow are set to hit the water again this Christmas Eve for the annual Surfing Santas event. What started nearly a decade ago as a fun family outing of three, has burgeoned into a full-blown extravaganza with an endless sea of Santas who shred.
George Trosset, founder of the event and “Chief Fun Officer,” marvels at the momentum and attention the occasion has created. “When we started eight years ago with my son George Jr. and his wife, Britteny, as surfing elves and myself as Santa, I never would have guessed that Surfing Santas could reach as many people as we have. We have sold more than 400 (2017 event) T-shirts so far,” Trosset beams.
The goal is to sell as many T-shirts possible before hitting the beach on December 24. Each sale means a lot as it raises money for the Florida Surf Museum and Grind for Life, an organization that provides financial assistance to cancer patients and their families when traveling long distances to doctors and hospitals.
For good reason, Trosset and his band of merry-makers are pumped for this year’s main event. And like the shaking of a giant snow globe, the journey up to it has been a whirlwind of fever-pitched planning. The last few months alone have seen the creation of another original song/music video production and the special release of a Surfing Santas-inspired chocolate milk stout from the Florida Beer Co.
Meanwhile, halfway across the planet, Manly Beach on Australia’s Central Coast is frothing to get in on the Surfing Santas act and is calling out Cocoa Beach in the process — all in good fun. Robin Vandekreeke, surfer and owner of The Rashie Company in Sydney, says the Surfing Santas holiday spirit is contagious and inspiring.
“We started The Rashie Company just more than a year ago with our first product, the Santa Rashie, because we wanted to bring color and cheeky fun back to the lineup, especially around Christmas,” he says. “We never even thought about putting on an event until about a month ago when we found out about George’s gig in Cocoa Beach. We connected and got to talking about getting some Santa Rashies to them; and at one point in the conversation, it just made sense that we need to try to do something like that here in Manly.”
So Vandekreeke has been digging to recruit participants and supporters, mostly by word of mouth and social media posts. “With a city of 6 million people, we can get a lot of words flowing very quickly,” he exclaims.
The plan is to hold the Aussie event at 11:00 am on Dec. 17 at North Steyne in Manly Beach with Christmas Eve as a back-up in case of poor waves and/or weather. “It’ll be right out front of the Dripping Wet Surf Shop,” he says. “This year, it’s all about fun, it’s free and the first 50 people get a free Santa Rashie. We’re also giving a $200 cash prize for the best Surfing Santa outfit in three categories: Male, Female and Groms.”
Back in Cocoa Beach, Trosset welcomes the Manly challenge and muses about the possibilities going forward. “When you look at the big picture, what if the Manly Beach event catches on and follows our path? A group of fun-loving surfers get together to celebrate surfing and Christmas; and the next thing you know, a local charity is being supported by the event.”
Vandekreeke says the philanthropic aspect puts it all in perspective. “In the future, we’re hoping to make this a charitable fundraising event like Cocoa Beach,” he says. “The Surfing Santa Contest in Dana Point, Calif., is another great example. They raise money for Surfers Healing. Talk about putting smiles in the lineup!”
To set the record straight, Guinness is not totally oblivious to Santas that surf. The brand did recognize RedBalloon Australia in 2015 when it hosted on Bondi Beach what was the world’s largest surfing lesson (320 people — many dressed as Santa).