A Christmas Story...

27 December 2007

From John Fulton's point of view, it sounded like police cars were responding to a nearby accident.

He was floating chest-deep in the icy-cold water of the Niagara River at the time, dressed in a Santa Claus costume, clinging to his board.

Fulton had done this before. Twenty- two other times, to be exact. It's long been his annual ritual to pull on a Santa suit over this wetsuit and windsurf in the Niagara River with a "Surfing Santa" logo on his sail.

So around 10 a.m. Sunday he hit the waters again from Fort Erie and when he got close to the American side of the river, decided it was time to turn around.

"So I was waiting for a wind," Fulton said Sunday evening. "I was chest deep in the water, kicking with my feet. And what happened was a woman on the America side thought I was in trouble."

That's when he heard the sirens.

"At first I thought there was a car accident or something on the American side," he said. "But I looked around and saw the American coast guard."

Fulton said he tried to wave the boat off by indicating he was OK. But it didn't take along until other boats arrived.

"I was saying ‘Look, I'm OK, I'm OK. I'm just heading back.' But they kept telling me to come aboard," Fulton said.

So finally, feeling that it would be more of a hassle if he stayed in the water, Fulton said he climbed aboard a boat from Fort Erie Underwater Rescue Unit, which took him back to shore.

But contrary to news stories that circulating in Buffalo, Fulton says he was in never in any danger.

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