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Shannon Bryan

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Out Going with Shannon Bryan
Posted: December 17, 2012

Santa likes a paddle: Santa SUP cruise in Portland Harbor

Photos by Jill Newel


The thing about Santa is, he ain’t no lily liver. There’s no room for cowardice in his line of work – no fear of flying, no fear of confined spaces where people often light fires, and certainly no fear of heights whilst lugging a heavy sack of toys on the ice-covered roof of a 47-story city apartment building.

So if you’re going to represent the most famous North Polian, you can’t chicken out at the sight of Portland Harbor. Even if it’s 19 degrees out. And a little windy. And there’s a chance the paddleboard you’re on could choose to shrug you off into the Atlantic without a second thought.

On Sunday, nine Santa-loving paddleboaders took to the water in Santa suits and Santa hats and Santa beards (and all the cold-water gear and personal floatation devices we could muster) for the third annual Santa SUP. The cold-weather cruise was organized by Rafael Adams, owner of SoPoSUP, a paddleboard shop in South Portland.

We met in the morning at the Bug Light boat launch in SoPo.

After a few dry-land photo opps, we shoved off into Portland Harbor for a cruise along the waterfront.

It appropriately began to snow – a sight Santa certainly sees often.

And we spotted a few seals – ever seen that, Santa? Bet not.

And in good cheer we waved to onlookers who stepped out onto balconies or peered over the Casco Bay Bridge railing in confusion.

On the Portland side of the harbor, we paddled between wharfs, taking in a waterfront view (the pilings, the bundled-up boats) that we rarely see.

We were spotted by Steve DiMillo outside Dimillo’s Floating Restaurant and he was nice enough to invite us in for hot chocolate.

And after warming ourselves at the bar with hot drinks and chocolate peanut butter balls, we returned to our boards for a paddle back to South Portland. And while Santa’s the rosy-cheeked king of impressive feats (every kid, the whole world, one night) I’d like to think he stepped away from his last-minute list checking to give us an approving nod. And then he wrote a letter asking himself for a paddleboard for Christmas.

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