Hanging with the Santas
Surfers share the waves while raising money for Brevard charities
What started as a fun family outing on Christmas Eve 2009 for George Trosset, has since become one of the largest gatherings to ever converge on the Space Coast. Surfing Santas — now in its 14th year — brings the magic of the holidays to Cocoa Beach as surfers share the waves while spectators enjoy the action and participate in multiple activities surrounding the annual family friendly event.
“In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined how this thing has evolved to what it has become,” the Cocoa Beach resident said.
He remembered the first time he donned a Santa suit, grabbed his surfboard and joined his son and daughter-in-law on that sunny morning to ride the waves off 24th Streetin South Cocoa Beach.
“We paddled out dressed as Santa, a snowman and an elf while my wife, Nihla, photographed us, and deemed us a bit crazy,” he recalled. “During the next several years, neighbors, friends, wanted to join us. By 2011, our family outing had turned into a full-blown Christmas Eve extravaganza — complete with a surfer that even dressed as the Grinch.”
Trosset then decided it was time for the City of Cocoa Beach to step in, and thankfully it agreed to sponsor the event, which moved to Minuteman Causeway.
The number of costumed kahunas — everything from surfers dressed in traditional Santa attire, elves, Christmas Trees, snowmen and more — has grown to record-breaking numbers, drawing nearly 10,000 spectators and thousands of surfers.
And for the past decade, the holiday spectacle has raised an excess of $100,000 for two local Brevard charities.
In 2013, Trosset collaborated with the Florida Surf Museum and the nonprofit, Grind for Life, a local charity benefiting people with cancer founded by Mike Rodgers.
Trosset said he felt the need to help Rodgers, a surfer and professional skateboarder, after meeting the two-time sarcoma eye cancer survivor. Grind for Life supports families of cancer patients by providing travel expenses.
“Mike has always been such an inspiration and I think this event has truly evolved into what it was meant to be,” Trosset said. “It’s kind of surreal, we now have had 6 billion impressions on our official website. We’ve even managed to get a plush Santa toy on board a trip to outer space, via Blue Origin. Our goal is to send him to the moon next.”
This year, the list of participants and activities continues to grow and includes a costume contest, a Hawaiian dance exhibition, entertainment by local musicians, and, of course, surfers.
Surfing Santas Cocoa Beach, in partnership with eLifeGuard.com, will be selling T-shirts to benefit Grind for Life and the Florida Surf Museum and will be available at the entrance to the beach or online.
“George and I are grateful for all of the community support and the people who come out every year,” Nihla Trosset said. “He would not have it any other way.”
If you go …
Dec. 24, 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
3 Minutemen Causeway Beach, Cocoa Beach
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Go to www.surfingsantas.org
Sue DeWerff Panzarino
Sue is an avid surfer, shark attack survivor and storyteller who loves to write about the wonderful people and great organizations on the Space Coast.