SantaCon a favorite for some, a nasty crowd of amateur drunks for others

One of the highlights of New York City’s merry Christmas season is the coming– and for some, the passing– of SantaCon NYC, the biggest pub crawl in the country.

The Tonight Show‘s Jimmy Fallon included Santacon in his monologue on Thursday, previewing last Saturday’s deluge of 30,000 Santas across New York City. When most of the Santas, Mrs. Claus, elves, Rudolphs, angels and even Jesus Christ (I saw two) spread out over Manhattan, not all residents were happy to see the mostly red and white dressed throng.

SantaCons are held throughout the world, but most were scheduled early in the season. The nearest SantaCon is Saturday, Dec. 21 in Washington, D.C. on the Mall. 

Most Santas behaved themselves and enjoyed the party-like atmosphere, in spite of the rain. In midtown, lines for the theaters mingled with Santacon lines, some of which circled the block.

The day began, appropriately enough, at Times Square, with bands playing something other than Christmas music. The center of New York City hosted a group photo of all the Santas, and a few thousand tourists/shoppers curious about the happenings.

SANTACON IS A CHARITABLE, NON-POLITICAL, NONSENSICAL SANTA CLAUS CONVENTION THAT HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR TO SPREAD ABSURDIST JOY.  — website

On Saturday, the busiest single Christmas shopping day of the year, an estimated 800,000 people checked out Rockefeller Center. The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall attracts more than a million people a year.

santaconImagine those crowds, and then add 30,000 partiers, generally about 20 or 30-something old. For the first few hours– the event begins at 10 a.m.– everyone is smiling, happy and agile. After that, after the pub crawl has captured more than their share of imbibing fans, happy becomes angry and agile becomes stumbling.

New Yorkers don’t enjoy it because of the litter, fights, and language (kids are shopping with Mom and Dad), but the pubs love the publicity, and SantaCon has raised more than $400,000 for charity. Along the way, some of the partiers probably stepped inside Macy’s or one of the hundreds of retail stores along the route.

Local news site the Gothamist, found the best and worst of Santacon in a video here.

Late on Saturday, a crowd of SantaCon Santas subdued a man who allegedly stabbed another man on the Long Island Railroad. A video shows the event, and the Santas emphasized they didn’t start the fight, but ended it when they held down the suspect until police arrived.

tuba faceElite Bus of Ephrata, Lancaster County, drove 20 buses Saturday to NYC, one from Lititz Rec Center in Lititz. When one considers Elite is just one of a handful of bus companies in the York-Lancaster area, imagine the numbers from New Jersey, New York state, Connecticut and Pennsylvania all headed to NYC this time of year.

Even if you’re finished with Christmas shopping, there is more than enough to do in a New York City day. Museums, Santas, monuments, theaters. This time of year,  pedestrians meet in the middle of the street, fighting to get to the other side.

On one day a year, it’s an adventure. Or a challenge.

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