COCOA BEACH, Fla. – It's not Christmas without the big man himself, Santa Claus. He's not using a sleigh and reindeer. Instead in Cocoa Beach, he travels by surfboard.
"Just fun! We're on the beach for Christmas," Kristin Gladd, who attended this year's Surfing Santas event said.
It may not be a white Christmas in Central Florida, but it was a sandy holiday thanks to the hundreds of surfing Santas.
"It was amazing! A little cold on the side, but it was awesome," surfer Devon Bell said.
More than 800 surfers came out Christmas Eve morning to participate in Surfing Santas. It is a tradition that started nine years ago with George Trosset and his family. Now it has grown into a huge event.
"I've had over a dozen people today come up and say, 'Thank you for starting Surfing Santas. This is our holiday tradition, this is our Christmas,'" Trosset said.
Thousands of people came out to watch the Santas ride the waves. There was also a stage set up where dancers and musicians performed. Everyone came dressed up in their best holiday outfits and in the Christmas spirit.
The participants not only enjoyed a day at the beach, but the event has also raised more than $20,000 for local charities since it started.
"It's a great event. Does great for charity, always got to get a T-shirt every year," Bell said.
Many made it a family affair, like the Gladd family. They tell News 6 this will now become an annual tradition, even bringing their newborn son to the beach to celebrate his first Christmas.
"It was our first year as a family here. We've come here a couple years, but just the three of us. Our family is visiting so they came here with us this time," Gladd said.
"Just celebrating Christmas in Florida...Cocoa Beach style!" Trosset said.