Say It Ain’t Snow, Santa’s on the Coast | South Carolina Aquarium

Say It Ain’t Snow, Santa’s on the Coast

Dec 08

Say It Ain’t Snow, Santa’s on the Coast

You may have been lucky enough to spot Howard Hogue, the famous Beach Santa, regularly sweeping the Isle of Palms beachfront, searching for and discarding hundreds of thousands of pieces of litter. Often donning a jolly, red outfit, occasional Santa hat and handing out “business cards” in the form of candy canes, Beach Santa is the expert on keeping our beaches as pristine as the North Pole. This year, Beach Santa shared his ideas to keep you on the nice list! 

Howard "Beach Santa" Hogue; Credit: Mic Smith Photography

What’s in Santa’s (Trash) Bucket?
Beach Santa is the number one user of the Litter-Free Digital Journal (LFDJ), a project in the South Carolina Aquarium Citizen Science app. He began recording his litter sweeps four and a half years ago and quickly gained a fan following as a celebrated conservationist for the community. Nearly every day, Beach Santa heads outdoors to clean up stretches of highway, beaches and marshes all throughout the Lowcountry, which are frequently riddled with trash.  

It’s safe to say that Beach Santa is the busiest elf contributing a total of 727,740 pieces of litter to the LFDJ since July 2018! Nearly 70% of Beach Santa’s logged litter is plastic debris from a variety of sources — the largest contributor being smoking-related items. One of the more surprising items was a sprig of artificial Christmas holly, which Beach Santa resourcefully kept for himself as a holiday decoration! 

A sprig of holly, the real-life inspiration of his beach find!

Get on Santa’s Nice List
After completing more than 1,500 sweeps, we asked Beach Santa what his suggestions were for this holiday season: 

  • Leave No Trace: Plan ahead for your beach trip! Only bring what you need and use reusable containers to pack food and drinks. Sweep your area at the end of the day and make sure only footprints are left behind. 
  • Follow the Rules: Check for restrictions on what you can have on the beach. Styrofoam, glass, plastic bags and cigarettes are the most common restricted items on beaches in the Lowcountry. While we may not have reindeer to consider, we still want to make sure our local species are well taken care of!  
  • Wrap Smart: Consider eco-friendly gift wrap options such as old newspaper and twine. Be sure to recycle or reuse gift wrapping, tissue paper, ribbon, bags and tags this holiday season.  
  • Join the Fun: Perform a post-holiday litter sweep in your neighborhood and record your findings in the Litter-Free Digital Journal. We can neither confirm nor deny but this might just keep you on the nice list for next year! 

Make Your List and Check it Twice
We are combining forces with the Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew and Beach Santa to have a sunset beach sweep December 12 from 4:30–5:30 p.m. at Isle of Palms. Join us to make your own litter list and check the area twice to ensure we’re keeping the Lowcountry looking nice! 

He sees you when you're (litter) sweeping!

Published December 8, 2022

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