Surfing Santa rescued by border guards on Niagara River
Canadian Santa tried Surfing USA on Friday – but the gnarly mission was cut short when Mr. Claus tumbled off his surfboard, red hat and all.
As part of an annual tradition, Fort Erie resident John Fulton was attempting to wind-surf across the Niagara River, but ran into trouble and had to be rescued by the U.S. border patrol.
In an exclusive CTV News video, Fulton can be seen on his windsurfer in choppy waters, his red velvet-clad body leaning far back to balance the weight of the sail. After being picked up, he can be seen waving jovially at the TV camera from a Zodiac boat.
Matthew Densmore with the U.S. Border Patrol said the agency knew about Fulton's journey and was keeping an eye on the surfing Santa when he plunged into the river.
"He was going along fine and then they looked away for a minute…and he was in the water, holding onto his surfboard trying to wave our guys down," he said.
Densmore said he isn't sure why Fulton fell off his surfboard but pointed out that Santa's sail was detached from the board at the time of the rescue.
In lieu of a sleigh pulled by reindeers, Fulton hitched a ride back to the U.S.-Canada Peace Bridge with his rescuers.
"It's Santa," Densmore told CTVToronto.ca. "We try to help Santa out when we can."
As for Santa's surfboard? Densmore said it's sitting in a U.S. Border Patrol garage waiting to be picked up when the holiday frenzy dies down.
For more than 20 years, Fulton has made the cross-river trek from Fort Erie to the American side and back as a fundraiser. He also ran into trouble in 2007 after someone called the fire department, saying he was stranded in the river.
"He needs to let us know what he's doing out there," fire chief Keith German told the Niagara Falls Review at the time "That way, we don't have a scramble out there."