Pardon the pun, but Cocoa Beach’s annual Surfing Santas event has snowballed into what might possibly be the largest coastal gathering of holly jolly this side of the North Pole.
Legend has it on Christmas Eve 2009, event founder George Trosset paddled out at his local donning St. Nick’s traditional attire with his son and daughter-in-law dressed as elves. Florida Today published a photo of the trio on the front page on Christmas Day, and suddenly Trosset’s friends wanted in. The next year saw 19 surfing Santas, and the event took off from there. Last year, some 772 red suit-clad surfers hit the waves in Cocoa Beach alongside Trosset with over 8,000 spectators.
This Christmas Eve, the goal is to top 1,000 costumed surfers, and spectators are predicted to exceed 10,000. That’s some serious Christmas spirit. The event has also transformed into a fundraiser 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, all through the sale of t-shirts. The goal is to sell as many t-shirts as possible before December 24.
“We’re the small wave capital of the world, so it’s no surprise Santa comes here to catch the best waves and mix with his fans,” Trosset told Central Florida’s public radio station, WFIT. “It’s very spirited, zany and diverse. This is Central Florida’s best Christmas party and there’s nothing else like it.”
The event has become so popular in fact, it’s inspired FOMO continents away. In 2015, a company called RedBalloon Australia contacted the folks at Guinness World Records and held the “world’s largest surf lesson” on December 15 with 320 participants, many clad in Santa garb. Let it be known that Trosset’s event that year was larger.
And now, another Aussie, Robin Vandekreeke, surfer and owner of the Rashie Company in Sydney, is hoping to host a surfing Santa event of his own similar to and inspired by the one in Cocoa Beach at Freshwater Beach just north of Sydney. The first 50 participants to show on Christmas Eve get a Santa-inspired rash guard.
Vandekreeke is hoping his event snowballs (sorry, again!) like Trosset’s.
“We will definitely beat George’s year one performance of three people — you can tell him that,” Vandekreeke told Florida Today in an email. “And we plan on surpassing his event numbers within the next two years. You can tell him that, too. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!”
Trosset’s event in Cocoa Beach has inspired a number of events closer to home, too including an annual event to raise funds for autism in Dana Point. Vandekreeke is hopeful that as his surfing Santa event gains steam, it will transform into a charity event as well. Competition and Guinness World Records aside, Trosset’s Surfing Santas and the copycat events it’s spawned are seriously spreading Christmas cheer and benefiting a handful of charities in the process.