“Since Santa has a busy night ahead of him on Christmas Eve, he likes to spend the morning enjoying his favorite pastime, which is surfing,” says founder George Trosset. “And because Cocoa Beach is the East Coast surfing capital, it’s no surprise he comes here to catch the best waves and mix with his fans. Around here, this show the Surfing Santas put on is known as ‘the ride of Christmas magic.’ It’s very spirited and zany and diverse. This is Central Florida’s best Christmas party and there’s nothing else like it.”
When: December 24, 8am-12pm
Where: Minutemen Causeway Beach, Cocoa Beach
7:00am Band Starts – Aquanuts
8:00am M/C Arrives – Hunter Joslin
8:30am Invocation – Pastor Keith Capizzi
8:45am Christmas Songs – Anna Lusk / Balsa Bill
9:00am Costume Contest
10:00am Santas Gather for Group Picture
10:30am Santas Released To Go Surfing
11:00am Brevard Hawaiian Dancers (Halau Ilima O Pololika)
12:00pm Event Ends (but the party doesn’t stop!)
What started out as a small, family day in Cocoa Beach has turned into a global phenomenon. People from all over congregate on Christmas Eve in Cocoa Beach to celebrate the holidays with Santa, friends and family. Whether you surf or you’re looking to join in the holiday spirit, there’s no other beach having this much fun on Christmas Eve!
There’s a good reason folks along Florida’s Space Coast flock to Cocoa Beach’s downtown oceanfront early in the morning on Christmas Eve. Everyone wants to stake out a prime viewing spot for what has become a wildly popular annual ritual in these sunny seaside parts: the celebrated arrival of “Surfing Santas.” Surfing Santas Cocoa Beach is an annual Cocoa Beach tradition that brings hundreds of surfers of all ages dressed up as Santa. The costumes are as diverse as the people that wear them. Watch them ride in on the waves and kick off your holiday beachside at this free event that benefits local, charitable causes.
If you’re anywhere near Cocoa Beach, the surfing capital of the East Coast, during Christmas weekend, you don’t want to miss this outrageous local holiday tradition. Last year, nearly 800 Surfing Santas showed up to catch some of Cocoa Beach’s finest waves, entertaining a beachside crowd estimated at nearly 10,000.
Now in its second year, the crowd can participate in a costume contest. Dress up in your favorite winter themed outfit – snowman, Santa and Mrs. Claus, gingerbread man, reindeer, elves – for your chance to win prizes. This year there will be five categories:
- Babies (0-3)
- Kids (4-15)
- Group (2 people or more)
- Men (16+)
- Women (16+)
Costume contest starts at 9am, followed by Santa surfing out at 10am. There are no rules, so anything goes… well, almost! This is a family-friendly event, so please keep that in mind. To ensure the safety of both surfers and spectators, the Cocoa Beach police, fire department, lifeguards and EMT personnel are on site.
Cash prizes for first through third place: $50 for first, $25 for second, $15 for third in individual categories and $100 for first, $50 for 2nd and $30 for third in the group category. One Grand Prize winner, the people’s choice from the first place winners, will win a Surfing Santas Surfboard!
What does Surfing Santas Cocoa Beach Benefit?
Surfing Santas Cocoa Beach takes great pride in helping those in need. With every piece of Surfing Santas Swag sold, they’ve been able to raise over $60,000 for local charities.
There are two charities dear to Surfing Santas Cocoa Beach – The Florida Surf Museum and Grind for Life. Since 2014, this event has been made possible by the efforts of The Florida Surf Museum, the Trosset family and and its many volunteers. The Florida Surf Museum preserves and documents the unique history and culture of Florida surfing. Experience the heritage and traditions of the surfing community through events, exhibits and programs.
Grind for Life offers financial assistance to families suffering from the effects of cancer. Every dollar received by your generous donations and purchases make a difference and impacts many lives.
The whole thing started as a beach day with a one Cocoa Beach local dressed up as Santa catching a wave. On December 24, 2009, George Trosset went surfing dressed as Santa with his son and daughter-in-law dressed as elves. Florida Today newspaper published a picture on the front page of the Christmas Day issue. George’s friends saw the picture and inquired about joining him the following year. The next year, even more people wanted to join the fun. A local skydiving enthusiast, Chuck Jullian, contacted them shortly after and asked if he and a few of his skydiving friends could land on the beach dressed in Santa Suits the following year. By now the news media had joined for this unique fun day. This coverage added to the crowds for 2013. By this point, the event had grown so big, they had to find a new location. When they approached the city of Cocoa Beach about moving the event downtown, they were received with open arms. Their friends at Fat Kahuna Restaurant served up an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast and donated the proceeds to the event. Local artist, Keith Coffman, donated the event T-shirt design. The Secrets of Cocoa Beach Gift Shop, Coconuts on the Beach and Surfinista Cafe all sold the event T-shirts, which benefited Grind for Life and The Florida Surf Museum. On December 24, 2017, 800+ Surfing Santas and nearly 10,000 spectators made their way to Cocoa Beach for some holiday fun in the sun!
The community’s support has been overwhelming, and Surfing Santas Cocoa Beach thanks everyone who wants to ride the Surfing Santa wave.
There are so many great beachside residents on which to report. However, I had only to look across the office from where I sit every day to find one great American / beachside resident I am proud to report on. Being that I am the Editor-in-Chief for this rag, I have decided to take it upon myself, amidst much protest from the man himself, to bring to light someone I am proud of. He’s a moderately modest man who doesn’t often get the accolades he deserves. Outside from being my boss and friend, he is (most importantly) a decorated combat U.S. Marine veteran, and his story deserves to be heard.
So who is Mr. Beachside? Well, that’s Craig Harriman. Craig was born in Belfast, Maine. He spent the majority of his childhood riding four-wheelers, hunting, camping, fishing and exploring the great outdoors. His family owned a True Value hardware store for 20+ years, where he learned much of his work ethic. He fast-tracked through high school, graduating in just three years, followed by two years at Southern Maine Community College. In 2001 he signed up for the delayed entry program with the United States Marine Corps, with an M.O.S. of Presidential Security Forces.
On September 11, 2001, while attending college, he watched as two planes collided with the Twin Towers. Immediately, he made a willful choice to approach his recruiter and enlist. By the second day of the new year, 2002 , he was standing on the yellow footprints at Paris Island, South Carolina. After 13 weeks, he graduated from Boot Camp, and was soon after shipped to the School of Infantry where he specialized as a heavy machine gunner. After graduating the School of Infantry, he attended the Marine Corps Security Forces school where he specialized in close quarters battle (CQB). After graduation, he received his first orders to Washington State where he worked in classified operations. After two years of being an operator, Craig was promoted to Security Force Instructor where he spent a little over a year training students in CQB, physical security, and other special tactics. While at this duty station, he also received his 1st Instructor black belt in the Marine Corps Mixed Martial Arts program.
In late 2004, he received orders to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and was assigned to a special unit preparing for deployment to the Iraq war. Tasked as a small unit leader for a combined anti-armor team, he specialized in transportation of high-risk personnel and high level dignitary security. He served two back-to-back tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), in addition to a classified area near Sadr City Baghdad. After the war, he received orders to Brunswick Naval Air Station where he served as an Infantry Inspector Instructor. His primary duty was to train infantry reserve units to fight in combat. His secondary duty was to serve as head of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program for the state of Maine, raising money for children in need during the holiday season. He was also assigned duty as casualty notification wherein he was responsible for family notifications of killed in action (KIA) Marines or deceased Marines. Essentially, once the Marine’s body came off the plane, it was in his stewardship until it was laid to rest. He has ushered many of our fallen heroes to their final resting spots and attended many funerals.
While stationed in Maine, he received medical treatment for injuries he sustained in 2010 and was medically retired. That year, he left the state of Maine and headed to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as a federal police officer. There, he was assigned a few very prestigious special assignments. When Obama came to Kennedy Space Center in 2012, Craig was selected to drive the lead security vehicle in his convoy.
During his years at the Air Force Station, he worked many launches. He even worked special detail on the last couple shuttle launches in history. Some days he gets that far-away look on his face and regales his excitement in meeting the many astronauts and dignitaries who shook his hand over the years.
In 2012, he took over representation of The Beachside Resident syndication, where he learned his passion for storytelling and reporting. Nearly simultaneously, in 2013, he stepped into the private sector and began work renovating and revitalizing properties within the greater Cocoa Beach area. I’m often in awe of the dedication it must’ve taken to operate a publication and transition to the private arena at the same time. I’ve transitioned out of the military myself; going to the mall to buy new sneakers nearly broke me.
As though that weren’t enough, within that year, he also created the Cocoa Beach Friday Fest, which still exists today, and attended the Florida Main Street conference where he helped establish the Cocoa Beach Main Street program. Craig has served as the Marketing Director/Production Manager on local events like the Cocoa Beach Art Show, Thunder on Cocoa Beach and The Legend of the Seagullmen. Some of the events he’s partnered with are Surfing Santas, Operation Surf and Surfers for Autism. In 2017, he started the Eastern Pro/AM and served as the Executive Director for the event.
Recently he’s worked on many community revitalization projects. Craig has helped incubate over 13 local businesses within the downtown Cocoa Beach community, and is also the founder of Mai Tiki Market. This year, The Beachside Resident hosted our first annual Mai Tiki Carving Contest where we gave $5,000 in prize money to the best tiki carvers in the country.
Craig’s concept for a tiki carving contest was a hit with the community. In fact, we’ve scheduled April 20, 2019 for the second annual event, so now it’s a thing. This guy is a maverick when it comes to brainstorming and fund-raising and we couldn’t be more proud of him for the events he’s conceived of and cultivated. Not to brag, but Craig has even served as a Board of Director for a couple years on the Cocoa Beach Kiwanis Club. Last year he helped lead the charge in raising over $10,000 for the Cocoa Beach Roosevelt playground.
His passions include skateboarding, surfing, VW’s, woodworking and reggae music. He is a father of two beautiful girls. He has a gorgeous girlfriend who pierces the masses with her custom jewelry (Whitney Bailey, Endless Summer Tattoo), three dogs, three chickens, five fish and one fine pig named Hammy.
Craig is an environmentalist at heart with a goal to better our environmental guardianship. He has a great passion for the ocean, and especially our lagoon. He plans to use his platform with Beachside Media and The Beachside Resident to raise awareness about local beachside subjects that affect us all. Craig believes in our community and that ultimately, the change must start with us.