George Trosset’s Unique ‘Surfing Santas’ Event Will Draw 1,000 Surfers, 10,000 Fans to Brevard
By Steve Wilson // December 23, 2019
2018 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE • SPORTS AMBASSADOR CATEGORY
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: The Phenomenon known as “Surfing Santas” drew more than 800 surfers and 10,000 spectators to Cocoa Beach on Christmas Eve 2017 – along with the attention of millions worldwide.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – In November of 2009, surfer George Trosset happened stumbled upon a Honda car ad depicting surfers wearing Santa Claus suits. Trosset loved the idea and enlisted the help of his wife, Nihla, to help him fashion a suit so it would look like a Santa outfit.
To Nihla’s thrift shop red jacket find, George added a Santa hat and beard made from an old white fleece blanket.
He called his son and his wife and asked them to dress up as elves and meet him on the beach at Cocoa Beach early Dec. 24.
“My son later told me he thought I had been drinking,” said Trosset.
As the morning light bathed the beach, Trosset and his “elves” took to the waves. Watching them were Nihla and their grandson, then three-year-old Anderson.
Those were the humble beginnings of the phenomenon known as Surfing Santas, which last Christmas Eve morning drew more than 800 surfers and 10,000 spectators to Cocoa Beach – and the attention of millions worldwide.
Trosset almost didn’t survive being the first Surfing Santa.
“The beard nearly killed me,” explained Trosset, who said he had trouble breathing under the weight of the beard, sopping wet from the white water of the waves.
In 2010, 18 of Trosset’s friends joined him for the Second Surfing Santas.
“Some of them were dressed in genuine velour Santa costumes, and it was downright dangerous,” said Trosset.
Fortunately, nobody drowned and the quirky event continued to grow, nurtured by the media, which took notice in a big way.
“It just snowballed with national media coverage,” said Trosset. “People now tell me that is has become a family tradition.”
If you had witnessed the 2017 Surfing Santas, you could have spotted Sexy Santas, Santa sharks, Batman Santas, Hawaiian Santas and even a Rasta Santa with a wild floor mop for hair.
For Trosset, what was once a spur-of-the-moment lark has become part of his life.
“It’s now more like a full-time job,” said Trosset, who is thankfully retired from his job as owner of Brevard Boat Sales and can devote his time to the St. Nick by the sea shenanigans.
Because of media the likes of CNN, AP, Reuters and Fox News, 70 million people have seen Surfing Santa in the news across America. Even Russian television got in on the Surfing Santas craze with a YouTube video.
As it mushroomed, Surfing Santas has evolved into a charitable event that benefits the nonprofit Florida Surf Museum, as well as Grind for Life, which provides financial assistance to cancer patients and their families.
While there is no cost to participate or watch Surfing Santas, the sale of 3,000 t-shirts last year helped fund these organizations.
Among Trosset’s bucket list items is to encourage Jimmy Buffet to write a song about Surfing Santas and perform at the event.
Bringing an A-lister such as Dwayne Johnson would also be extremely nice, as would be connecting with a major sponsor that would like to tap into the one billion media impressions Surfing Santas has garnered in the last two years.
For Trosset, ultimately the best part of Surfing Santa is seeing the happiness the event brings.
“I keep seeing faces of total joy,” he said. “Just talking about Surfing Santas makes people smile and I couldn’t be happier.”
Bringing annual joy to participants and fans is what earned George and his surfing Santas a spot in the 2018 Class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
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