COCOA BEACH, Fla. – On Thursday, organizers of what’s been the largest holiday party on Cocoa Beach the past decade plan to break up the crowds for a change.
Thousands traditionally watch hundreds of “Surfing Santas” on Christmas Eve at Coconuts on the Beach.
“I do think we’re going to have hundreds of surfers. They just won’t all be together,” founder George Trosset said.
Since he was photographed as the first surfing santa in 2009, Trosset and his partners added live entertainment and a costume contest to the event.
This year, Trosset said the costume and surfing contests will be internet submissions and there will be no live performances or alcohol for sale on the beach.
Trosset said the decision to cancel received criticism from Surfing Santas fans who anticipated the full-scale event would go on.
The city of Cocoa Beach has not ordered any public restrictions to its beaches since the spring.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we chose not to have a gathering of Santas, but people love Surfing Santas,” Trosset said. “They’re going to go surfing on Dec. 24. They may go to Coconuts. They may go to another spot.”
Dan Sheehan, from Fort Lauderdale, is in Cocoa Beach for Christmas and said he’ll be surfing Thursday.
“I got my suit and everything,” he said.
And a family from Polk County said they’ll be at Coconuts on the Beach watching.
Penny Mitman, from Haines City, said the group visited last Christmas Eve, too.
“Just all the excitement, all the Santas, all the different costumes that were out here, and talking to the locals around here, they seem to think that people will be out tomorrow,” Mitman said. “So we’re willing to risk it because it’s awesome.”
Surfing is expected to start Thursday at 10 a.m.