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Miami instructor 'hangs ten' for charity

By Cynthia Marcinek
On January 17, 2013

Ever wonder what your professors do over winter break? One Miami art education professor throws on a Santa suit and takes to the high tide. Every Dec. 24, Jean Langan participates in the Surfin' Santas event on Cocoa Beach in Florida.

The Surfin' Santas event was founded four years ago by George Trosset, a Cocoa Beach local. This was Langan's second year as a "Surfin' Santa."

"Surfs up at 10," Langan said. "That's high tide, so that's when we go, and the full thing is over by 11, 11:30, and in that amount of time we raised close to $3000."

It wasn't until 2011 that they added the fundraising portion to the event. Participants brought in gift cards, which were then donated to a Children's hospital. This past December they raised over $2900 for, an organization that gives money to cancer patients and their caregivers.

According to Langan, each year more Santas have shown up to surf.

"The event first had three people," Langan said. "The second year it had eighteen people. By the third year they put a note in the newspaper, which is where I read about it."

This past December, they had 159 Surfin Santas.

Though Langan may not surf traditionally yet, she plans to learn. For now she uses a boogey board, but still considers herself a Surfin Santa.

"It's so funny, when we get there we stick all our surfboards in the sand," Langan said. "There's these gorgeous surfboards like six or seven feet long, and then there's my little boogey board-it's four feet tall. I don't care, I'll put it right next to everyone else's because I'm a Surfin Santa."

Langan said this event is important for many reasons.

"I look at this as a way to reach out and have a good time," Langan said. "But I also think of it as something I cannot do here. It's something you can only do in Florida at Cocoa beach on December 24."

Sophomore Hailey Frogge, one of Langan's students, was happy to hear about her teacher's holiday endeavor.

"I think it's so great to hear about the cool things our teachers do for the community," Frogge said. "When I think of teachers, I always picture them in the classrooms, so it's great to hear how they also have an impact not only on the Miami community."

Maggie Kamenitsa, a sophomore art student, has had class with Langan in the past.

"Honestly, the only thing that does surprise me about that is that she never told us in class," Kamenitsa said. "She's a typical artist though, free spirited and happy to just be herself."

Now when Winter Break comes around you may wonder how your professor spends his or her break. As Langan said, "Do you know if they're surfing as Santa?"

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