You know the holidays have arrived in Cocoa Beach, Fla., when a massive red blob shows up on the swell forecast chart. Upon closer inspection, the red-and-white tinted groundswell is actually a group of surfing Santas – hundreds of them.
Over the past seven years, the Surfing Santas event has grown from what initially started out as a family day at the beach into a nationally recognized community observance. Last year’s gathering featured nearly 700 Surfing Santas, 8,000 spectators, and $20,000 in donations for local charities.
This year’s yuletide celebration officially kicked off on Black Friday when local legend and former World Tour competitor Todd Holland, dressed as the jolly old elf himself, decided to forego the sleigh and reindeer and make a grand entrance atop a surfboard at Alan Shepard Park in Cocoa Beach. The special surprise appearance was part of a grand lead-up to the annual Surfing Santas commemoration on Christmas Eve.
As a nod to the crowd of spectators, Holland slayed a few waves – with a little jet ski assist due to the micro-swell conditions – before hitting the sand to hand out candy canes and pose for photo ops.
The festivities are part of what’s become quite the holiday tradition in the Space Coast surf town that is proud to claim Kelly Slater as its own. The last two years, parody music videos were created ahead of the Surfing Santas event to help promote the gathering. For 2016, local singer/songwriter and surfer girl supreme Anna Lusk penned an original tune for the latest promo video (“Oh Surfing Santa”).
George Trosset, who founded Surfing Santas in 2009, continues to be stoked by the tidal wave of support, stating: “We are sharing the magic of Christmas at a magical place – on the beach.”
Trosset is anticipating another huge turnout for the eighth running of Surfing Santas. He expects at least 600 participants to hit the waves of Cocoa Beach this Christmas Eve.