Brevard's Surfing Santas Continue Carving Their 24-Year Worldwide Legend
In 2009, after watching a television commercial featuring a surfer wearing a Santa outfit, George Trosset decided he, too, could be a surfing Santa. In the process, he started a global phenomenon.
He asked his son and daughter-in-law to join him early on Christmas Eve morning, when Trosset donned the makeshift Santa suit his wife had fashioned and took to the waves of Cocoa Beach, to the delight of a single spectator, his grandson.
Through the coconut telegraph of the surfing community, 19 fellow surfers heard about Trosset’s surfing Santa and joined him the following year as 50 spectators, mostly friends of the surfers, watched.
“It was always more of a whisper event,” Trosset said. “It grew on its own.”
Wire services picked up the story and newspapers across the world — from Russia to Japan — took notice, posting images on Christmas day and launching the legend that now has surpassed more than 1 billion unique media impressions. When the weather cooperates, more than 800 decked-out surfers join Trosset, and 10,000 spectators from around the world line the beach to see the surfers in action.
“Who could have imagined this event would bring smiles to so many,” Trosset’s surfing buddy Eddie Legge said.
The costumes run the gamut from red rash guards that imitate Santa’s jacket to a Rasta Santa with dreadlocks flowing, a shark Santa, Batman Santa and sexy Santa in her red bikini.
Legge, one of the 19 surfers at Surfing Santa’s second year, has been part of the event ever since. He recalls how costumes had to evolve for the safety of the surfers.
“We were mostly dressed in full Santa outfits that first year and quickly learned that a full Santa suit becomes quite burdensome weighted down with all that salt water and somewhat of a hazard to stay afloat,” he said.
The Viera resident now wears a pair of red board shorts decorated with fringe repurposed from dollar store Santa hats. A red long-sleeve rash guard and red baseball cap with built-in Santa beard complete the look.
So, where is the real Santa during all this? Trosset is certain he chills out before the big night ahead by riding the waves with the others.
“The real Santa is there, you just don’t know which one he is,” he said.
If indeed Santa is there, he will have to up his game to beat the sartorial creativity of the surfers vying for bragging rights in the costume contest that is now part of the schedule.
This Christmas Eve morning, the Santas will again be at the beach by Coconuts on the Beach restaurant and bar at Minutemen Causeway at 7:30 a.m. The event has matured considerably since its beginning as a small family affair, and in addition to the costumes, now also features on-the-sand performances by Brevard Hawaiian Dancers, Harbor City Trio, Sam Sims and the beloved Balsa Bill and his ukelele.
Proceeds from a raffle and the extremely popular t-shirts help Surfing Santas help Cocoa Beach’s Florida Surf Museum and Grind for Life, a local nonprofit that provides financial assistance to cancer patients who must travel long distances for treatment.
“There’s really nothing else like it,” said Surf Museum director John Hughes, who has helped orchestrate the event for years. “It’s good goofy fun, everybody leaves the beach feeling better and we have the added bonus of being able to support charitable organizations.”