THE next time you are out and about at Lake Cathie, keep your eyes peeled for the jolly man and his best bud Spike.
Local man Ron Hunter does his best impression of old Saint Nick as he paddles on the water in his kayak with his dog aboard, who plays Rudolph and steers Ron around.
The 17-year-old dog has lasted so long because of all the swimming, according to Mr Hunter.
“I’m going to keep doing this for as long as I can, and as long as Spike can keep going,” he said.
“I didn’t think he would make it to this Christmas but the swimming seems to do his joints a lot of good.”
So why the kayaking dressed up as Santa you may ask? It is all for the benefit of the kids in the local community.
“I only started off doing it because a mother said to me that the kids loved seeing me out on the kayak with a dog,” he said.
“I decided to dress up as Santa and it has grown from there. I even get letters from kids addressed to Santa asking for presents.
“I’ve been doing it for almost 10 years now and Spike has been out with me for about seven.”
He purchased the kayak randomly as a new hobby that he thought he might enjoy, and he has not looked back.
“Spike gets a bit upset if we don’t go out on it every day,” he said.
“The kids all love seeing us out there, and that was before I decided to dress up as Santa.
“One mother approached me one day and she had a handicapped child. She told me how much he loved to wave at me when I went past.
“It is very rewarding to see people embrace us. Cars honk, people yell out, ambulances and police even give a quick blast of their lights and sirens over the Christmas period.”
So the next time you are in the area of a morning, usually before 10am, make sure to give Santa and Spike a smile and a wave.