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Shark-suited Norm Aspesi gives the shaka on Halloween morning at Grandview Beach. Photo by Blair Austin
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Halloween costume surf at Grandview Beach

ENCINITAS — Perhaps one of the most quintessentially Southern Californian ways to celebrate Halloween is to rise early to surf while wearing a costume.

That’s what a group of guys did this Halloween morning at Grandview Beach in Leucadia, a tradition they’ve had since at least 2009.

For a Halloween costume surf session that’s become an annual tradition, Marcelo Echeverria dressed as a “witch-hunt.” Norm Aspesi, left, in a shark suit and Jake Lessie, right, in a deflated velociraptor costume prepare to catch the same wave. Photo by Blair Austin

Marcelo Echeverria, the unofficial organizer of the event, dressed up this year as a “witch-hunt.” Clad in an orange hunter’s vest, a black, pointy witch’s hat and a green, hook-nosed mask, Echeverria charged the waves starting around 6:30 a.m.

Paddling out with him were an inflated velociraptor, a cow, Dr. Evil, a Rastafarian, a hulky Superman, two sharks, a turd with a plunger on it, a skeleton, a phantom and more.

Echeverria said they got some confused looks from other surfers who may not have realized it was Halloween morning. “We like to have fun in the lineup, and we thank the other surfers for putting up with us today,” he said.

It’s normally a surfing no-no to drop in on another person’s wave, but on Halloween this group of bedecked friends often tried to catch the same ride on what Paul Barry called a “costume party wave.”

Peter Ligotti, dressed as the comedian Gallagher, gets ready to smash his “Sledge-O-Matic” on Halloween morning. Photo by Blair Austin

Attila Tota, who lost an arm to cancer a few years back, playfully stuck an inflatable shark by that shoulder to make it look as though he’d been attacked. Brian Strem dressed up as Vladimir Putin riding on Donald Trump’s shoulders, but he was sinking in the water and couldn’t surf while wearing the whole getup.

The Halloween ensemble that took the most dedicated planning belonged to Peter Ligotti of Encinitas. Since January, Ligotti — who normally chooses to be completely bald — has been growing his hair out on the lower half of his head to resemble the comedian Gallagher.

Gallagher was known for a stand-up routine in which he demonstrated the wondrous qualities of the “Sledge-O-Matic” by smashing watermelons and other objects on stage with a large wooden mallet so that those items splattered on the audience.

In fond imitation, Ligotti brought an enormous mallet into the water and slammed it down for good sport, splashing his fellow surfers. He told his friends, “I’m getting hammered out here by these waves.”

The costumed surfers are regulars at Grandview who mostly live in Encinitas and Carlsbad. On Halloween, some of them surfed Costco Wavestorm foam boards that they call “foamies.” As Echeverria explained, “The foam’s softer than fiberglass if you get one shot at you!”

Luckily, no one was harmed by foam or Gallagher’s mallet during the Halloween surfing shenanigans.