COCOA BEACH, Fla., Dec. 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Cocoa Beach's famous "Surfing Santas" are ready to take to the water once again this Christmas Eve morning, and this time they hope to break their own record for the number of Santas simultaneously riding the waves.
What started as a simple family beach day in 2009 has grown into a beloved holiday tradition along Florida's Space Coast. Hundreds of surfers now don their best Santa suits to participate in this one-of-a-kind, annual event, which draws massive beachside crowds. Last year, a record-breaking 837 Surfing Santas were counted surfing together, while the number of spectators lining the shore topped 10,000 for the first time.
"It's amazing how this thing has grown over the past ten years into one of the biggest holiday events in Brevard County," said Surfing Santas organizer George Trosset, who got the craze rolling somewhat innocently on Dec. 24, 2009. That's when, dressed as Santa Claus, he went surfing on Cocoa Beach, accompanied by his son and daughter-in-law, themselves wearing elf getups. After a photo of the surfing trio appeared the next day in a local newspaper, the idea of surfing as Santa on Christmas Eve kept snowballing year after year, with the tally of Surfing Santas swelling into the hundreds.
"It's been extraordinary to watch the community come together for this morning of holiday spirit," Trosset said. "Each year, we look forward to more people joining our Christmas Eve celebration – who knows, we might draw over a thousand Surfing Santas to Cocoa Beach this time, because there's really no better place for St. Nick to hang loose before his busiest night of the year."
Because there are no skill or age requirements to participate, event organizers won't know until Dec. 24 if they've broken last year's world record for Surfing Santas. For those ready to catch the waves, the only requirement is to grab a board and don your most-festive holiday costume, whether it be Santa Claus, an elf, or any other seasonal character.
The 2018 extravaganza begins at 8 a.m. along the beach near 2 Minutemen Causeway (where the causeway intersects with N. Atlantic Avenue, also known as Florida Route A1A) and is expected to continue until noon. Plenty of parking is available and numerous area restaurants will be open to serve Surfing Santa participants and spectators.
"Cocoa Beach is known as the surfing capital of the East Coast, so this Surfing Santas event is a great opportunity for visitors to soak in some of that culture, or even actually participate in the surfing fun," said Bonnie King, the interim executive director of Florida's Space Coast Office of Tourism. "This one-of-a-kind event is truly a memorable way to celebrate the holidays on the Space Coast. It also gives our visitors a great story to share once they return home."
Since 2013, Surfing Santas has raised more than $90,000 for charity, through donations collected at the Dec. 24 gathering and from sales of official Surfing Santas T-shirts. All proceeds benefit the work of two local organizations: Grind for Life and the Florida Surf Museum.
Grind for Life is a cancer support group whose mission is to provide financial assistance to cancer patients and their families when they travel long distances to visit doctors and hospitals. The 19-year-old Florida Surf Museum preserves and documents all aspects of the unique history and culture of Florida surfing, housing the heritage and traditions of the state's surfing community.
For those not ready to get up on a surfboard on Christmas Eve, the third annual Surfing Santas costume contest will be open to all in attendance. Anyone can participate by dressing in the winter-themed outfit of their choice, and prizes will be awarded to the winner of each division (babies, children, groups, men, and women). There are no specific costume guidelines, but participants are asked to remember this is a family friendly event. With hundreds of surfers and thousands of attendees expected, Surfing Santas is one holiday party that shouldn't be missed.
For more information about the event and where to stay along the Space Coast, visit www.visitspacecoast.com.
ABOUT FLORIDA'S SPACE COAST
Florida's Space Coast is a family friendly destination located 45 minutes east of Orlando. Encompassing Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and The Beaches, Port Canaveral, Titusville, Palm Bay and Viera, it is home to the world's second-busiest cruise port and 72 miles of beaches (the longest stretch in the state), as well as 190,000 acres of wetlands and waterways full of habitat found nowhere else. Florida's Space Coast is home to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where rockets still soar into orbit. For more information, contact the Space Coast Office of Tourism at (877) 572-3224 or visit VisitSpaceCoast.com.
SOURCE: Florida's Space Coast Office of Tourism
430 Brevard Avenue
Cocoa, FL 32922
SOURCE Florida's Space Coast Office of Tourism