Beach Santa; the man who has picked up 24,000 cigarette butts off the Isle of Palms

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The Isle of Palms City Council held a special meeting to discuss an updated ordinance that could prohibit smoking on the beach.

One Isle of Palms resident in particular has wanted to see a smoking ban enforced for many years.

Howard Hogue, most commonly referred to as “Beach Santa,” has devoted his retirement to cleaning up litter on the Isle of Palms. He spends about 5 days a week picking up trash all around the island.

“Beach Santa” is an unmistakable figure to the Isle of Palms community. He is always wearing red and sporting a jolly beard. Hogue even carries around candy canes that he calls his “business cards.”

“I have to be honest when I’m on the beach when people ask me my age, that I’m 9 Santa-years-old,” he jokes.

In total, Hogue has collected and documented over 24,000 cigarette butts off the Isle of Palms.

Hogue has been urging council to take action and ban smoking on the beach. He says that a majority of the litter he collects is cigarette butts.

“I get a lot of people that ask me, ‘do you get paid?’ to which I always answer ‘no,’ I volunteer. It’s a way to give back,” says Hogue.

Tonight’s updated ordinance (2019-19) prohibiting smoking on the beach passed first reading by city council. However, there will be a second vote next week on December 10th.

Hogue mentioned that he will be conducting another community beach sweep on December 9th called “Sweep with Santa.” He also mentioned that he will be in full Santa costume to celebrate the holiday season. For more details, click here.

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