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By Lillian Boyd

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel celebrates the holiday season with the return of the 10th annual Surfing Santa and Stand-Up Paddleboard Contest at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point on Saturday and Sunday, November 20-21.

Afterward, the resort will host the 13th annual Holiday Surfboard Auction from Saturday, November 20 until Friday, December 31, featuring a variety of artistry surfboards by celebrated artists, creatives, professional surfers, and iconic shapers. Both seasonal events benefit Surfers Healing, a nonprofit that provides children with autism the gift of surfing. Since partnering with Surfers Healing, the resort has raised more than $440,000 for the nonprofit and has made an impact on countless lives.

“I am fortunate to have joined a resort dedicated to positively impacting the lives of others by organizing significant events including the Surfing Santa Contest and the Holiday Surfboard Auction,” said Karen Chastain, General Manager for the hotel. “It is an honor to uphold the Surfers Healing mission, and I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the local community, artists, and creatives for cultivating a successful tradition that has made a true difference.”

The Surfing Santa Competition is a local holiday tradition, where surfers compete on the waves in seasonal garb. Photo: File

The Surfing Santa and Stand-Up Paddleboard Contest is a two-day event in which contestants dress as Santa or other holiday-inspired characters and battle it out in the waves at Salt Creek Beach. The contest features multiple categories, inclusive of surf and stand-up paddleboard—open to both children and adults. Each heat extends prizes for placed winners, and all participants are eligible for a cash Big Air prize, based on contestable air points throughout the day. Cash prizes for first-place and second-place Costume Contest winners are also awarded. Contestants can register at, with registration ending on Thursday, November 18.

Adam Paskowitz as Santa and elf “Doc” (named for his grandfather “Doc” Paskowitz) ride tandem at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel’s fourth annual Surfing Santa Competition, Saturday at Salt Creek Beach. Photo by Jack Biehl

The Holiday Surfboard Auction highlights a selection of stunning surfboards from celebrated creatives, renowned artists, iconic shapers, and professional surfers on display at the resort and auctioned online to benefit Surfers Healing. Donated surfboards include works by artists Wyland, Brady Smith, Brian Bent, Alison Mosshart, Robin Hiers, Trevor Mezak, Jessica Osborne, Carolyn Johnson, and Cami Levin; along with shapers such as Brawner Boards, Hobie, and Firewire. The boards are on display in the oceanfront resort’s lobby throughout the entire holiday season, and bids can be placed online at Bidding for Good starting on Saturday, November 20.

“We truly value our relationship (with The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel) and are extremely grateful for them helping us raise funds all these years to keep these special children in the water and smiling,” said Danielle Paskowitz, co-founder of Surfers Healing.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel developed the Surfing Santa and Stand-Up Paddleboard Contest and Holiday Surfboard Auction as a way to connect and pay homage to Dana Point’s iconic surf history, Chastain added.

“Hobie opened in 1958 as the first California surf shop on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, revolutionizing the surfboard industry and birthing the ocean sport lifestyle that has become a backbone of the local community,” said Chastain.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel debuted the first Surfboard Auction in 2008, raising more than $13,000, and two years later, the resort hosted the first Surfing Santa Contest.

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