The Waterskiing Santa 2018

The Waterskiing Santa is an annual tradition that takes place on December 24th each year along the Potomac River between Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and Washington D.C. This unusual annual event features a water-skiing Santa, flying elves, the Jet-skiing Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, and even a sing-along to Christmas tunes. The best views of the performance are from Alexandria. 

Check out the images below and learn more about this exciting annual tradition.

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A Christmas Tradition Since 1986

Photo © Chris Bannon

Started in 1986, this family-friendly event is perfect for a Christmas vacation, but you won’t likely be getting in the water as temperatures in the area are traditionally rather low this time of year. Be sure to pack warm if you’re planning on traveling to see the Waterskiing Santa this year.

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Event Details

Photo © Chris Bannon

If you’re planning on checking out the festivities at Waterskiing Santa, you’ll want to make sure you have all the right information so you don’t miss this once-a-year extravaganza on the cold waters of the Potomac River. Also make sure you check the official website for details about parking, a schedule of events, and more information about the organization responsible for these high-flying Christmas characters.

Date: December 24, 2018.

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Location: Old Town Alexandria Waterfront. You can see the show anywhere from the Torpedo Factory (105 N Union St, Alexandria, VA 22314) to Point Lumley Park (1 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314).

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After the Show

Water-skiing Elf
Photo © Chris Bannon

If you stay after the show, Santa Claus and the rest of his merry band of Christmas revelers will head over to the pavilion on the waterfront (behind the Torpedo Factory) to greet children and families.

Get your picture taken with these Christmas characters and mingle with other revelers, but don’t expect to get a chance to sit on Santa’s lap. After all, it’s Christmas Eve and he has to get back to the North Pole!

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A Tradition Started by a Dare

Photo © Chris Bannon

Back in 1986, a group of friends who lived near Alexandria challenged one another to go out and water ski in the cold Potomac River on Christmas Eve dressed up as Santa. The group drew straws to see which unlucky one would have to brave the frigid waters. Surprisingly, the person who drew the shortest straw enjoyed it so much he promised to do it again the next year when local news covered the show and a tradition was born.

After more than 30 years, the event still continues and grows every year. Soon after that first year, more skiers volunteered to ride along dressed as reindeer, then a Grinch joined the cast, and now there are more than 20 people out on the water putting on a show for children and families each year.

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Getting Involved With the Show

Photo © Chris Bannon

The Waterskiing Santa team is always looking for new members. On their website, the crew that helps produce the show posted: “If you are very good waterskier and do not mind cold water or have a dry suit and do not want personal acclaim, please let us know,” encouraging community members and tourists alike to reach out to their e-mail and join the ranks.

Additionally, the crew could use production support, including dressers, costumes, decorators for the boats and waterfront, safety personnel, and site operations managers. However, those wishing to help by driving the boats must be USA Waterski Certified Drivers.

Sponsors can also get involved on a financial level, covering costs for fuel, transport, accommodations, and expanding on the show itself.

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Santa and His Crew

Photo © Chris Bannon

As you can see from the images above, there’s a whole slew of fun Christmas characters your whole family will enjoy, including the Grinch, Santa, Miss Claus, Frosty the Snowman, and a passel of elves, polar bears, reindeer, and penguins all water skiing across the river.

With more characters and costumes added each year, you’ll never know what to expect until you see the new Christmas favorite skiing over the icy-cold waters.

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Other Events: Scottish Christmas Walk

Photo © Chris Bannon

While you’re in the area of the District of Columbia for the holidays, you might as well check out some of the other Christmas-themed attractions and events happening in the month of December, which kicks off with the Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend on November 30 and December 1.

Proceeds from the weekend benefit the Campagna Center’s core programs, which offer assistance to children and families through preschool programs, guidance through high school, and English Language Learning for adults.

The event is complete with “A Taste of Scotland” meals, a Scottish Christmas Parade, house decorating (“Deck the Halls with Santa”), holiday home tours, and plenty of local sales (“Heather and Greens Sales”), making it for one of the best times to visit Alexandria during the holiday season.

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Other Events: Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

Photo © Chris Bannon

If you’re in Alexandria on December 1 this year, you won’t want to miss the nighttime display of Christmas light-clad boats known as the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, also visible from the same waterfront as Waterskiing Santa.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., the 17th annual parade features dozens of illuminated vessels cruising the historic waterfront including both Alexandria and Washington D.C.’s fireboats the Vigilant and John Glenn, respectively.

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