Santa has been taking a break from toy making and has been spotted surfing and spreading cheer at Southern California beaches.
The surfing Santas have been spotted from the South Bay to Seal Beach, a cheerful sight that stops beachgoers on the sand who marvel at the oh-so-California sight.
The South Bay Boardriders Club last Saturday, Dec. 19 showed up to hand out toys gathered during a toy drive, with people dropping off gifts for kids in need at local surf shops.
Derek Levy, one of the founders of the decade-old Boardriders Club, dressed up as Santa and hit the water during the event, riding waves wearing a specially-made red Body Glove wetsuit, complete with a neoprene head hood that doubled for his mouth-covering mask that went over his white beard.
It was the first year the group had held the Surfin' Santa Toy Drive event, a low-key showing at 22nd street this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“It was fun as heck,” he said. “We’re all in need of some joy right now, with all the craziness going on. It was just really nice. It definitely brought some cheer to the area.”
There were two big bins filled with toys from their holiday drive. Levy said this will be held again next winter, adding to the other charity and fundraising the club does throughout the year.
For Levy, it was not just a way to give back, but also stoke him out.
“It’s been a crazy year,” he said. “It was pretty amazing for me. You’re feeling like a rock star, people are smiling and they want your picture. It’s hard to tell people are happy because they have their their masks on – but you can see it in their eyes."
In Seal Beach, M&M Surf School founder Michael Pless continued his three-decades-long tradition of riding waves in a Santa costume on the north side of the pier, something he’s been doing since the early 90s.
Pless normally dresses up and stokes out passerby on the sand and pier for weeks leading up to Christmas, but is recovering from a broken foot and shoulder after rushing to help put out an apartment fire in early October.
It was his first time back in the water on Monday, Dec. 21 in weeks, and he was glad he could get back to riding waves to bring some cheer to locals who each year look forward to his surfing Santa show.
“It brings the spirit of Christmas to the beach,” he said.
After his surf session near the beach showers, a man stopped him and said “thank you for doing this.”
“It gives you something to believe in,” said Pless, 70.