Thousands of spectators gathered in Cocoa Beach, Florida on Christmas Eve morning to witness the 6th Annual Surfin' Santas event held for the first time at its new location in downtown Cocoa Beach near Minuteman Causeway.
The event which began as a family celebration has grown into one of the most popular traditions in the Cocoa Beach community, bringing families together on Christmas Eve morning to raise money, take to the surf, and watch as many kinds of 'Santas' ride the waves, with everyone from teens to adults, and even children and grandparents donning their best surfing Santa attire to take part in the local fundraiser.
Surfin' Santas creator George Trosset started the event six years ago at his beachside residence, and says after attracting media attention surfers contacted him from all over the world wanting to join the effort.
This year's estimated count of 275 Surfin' Santas broke the record-breaking numbers set last year of 210 surfers who participated in the event which ran from 8am to noon. About an hour after the surfers hit the waves, even more Santas (22 of them) arrived via skydiving directly onto the beach.
Trosset said of the large turnout, ''All I can say is it's beyond my wildest dreams. We started this tradition with just myself, my son, and my daughter-in-law. It was a family party, and it's turned into a community event, and I'm amazed at how big it is."
Spectators were invited to enjoy a free, donations-only pancake breakfast provided by Fat Kahuna's with all proceeds going to the Grind for Life charity benefitting cancer patients and their families.
Other sponsors included Coconuts on the Beach, providing live music, free coffee and use of restroom facilities, and the Juice 'N Java Cafe, offering free parking for the event and a 10% discount on menu items for anyone dressed in Santa attire. The city lifted its parking fees for three hours, and various area businesses offered parking nearby to accommodate guests and surfers.
Mayor Dave Netterstrom also made an appearance to welcome the crowd, stating in honor of what now has become a great community event, the beach should now be known as 'Santa Beach.'