Santacon NYC is over, but here's where to find yours

Bil Bowden

Saturday's Santacon in New York City was another epic event, with an estimated 6,000 people dressed as Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, Rudolph, the Grinch, Kiss and other assorted Christmas-y characters.  And that number might have been even higher.

There was even one Jesus, complete with shepards hook, long hair and sandals. How the aforementioned character fit into this all-for-fun pub crawl is a question, but it was refreshing just the same.

"Santacon is a non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and non-sensical Santa Claus convention that occurs once a year for absolutely no reason." From Santacon website. Santacon is across the country, and indeed, the world.  At Santacon's website, 380 Santacons in 51 countries are scheduled between now and Christmas.

Organizers cloak the event as a fund raiser, and this year dropped the traditional canned goods drive for a $10 cash donation. In reality, Santacon is a perfect excuse for a fun party, usually attended by 20 or 30-somethings, who crawl from pub to club to bar in an attempt to find truth, fun and that perfect beer.


There were a few youngsters-- not allowed in the bars obviously-- who came along for the fun of it; a few seniors didn't have to wear fake white beards but joined the party anyway. And one or two well past the age limit for pub crawls, but trekked along the route to watch everyone else having a good time.

Last year, the day was splattered with a few minor fights, including one with two women brawling in the middle of Fifth Avenue. This year, Santacon stayed south of 34th Street and out of the way of the mid-town crowd which was more interested in seeing the 'real' store Santa Claus. Last year's event opened at Times Square, and the additional crowd of sometimes inebriated Santas spawned major problems for shoppers and traffic.

The excitement this year opened at 23rd and Broadway, but just up Fifth Avenue is where many of the partiers started-- and ended up.  The line of Santas and Company wound along one block and some waited more than an hour in the windy afternoon weather to enter. The Rooftop Garden and Bar claims to be New York's largest outdoor rooftop garden and fully enclosed penthouse lounge. One floor is fully enclosed, the roof is open to the New York skyline. The capacity of 1,200 was at its limit, and personnel at the entrance and exits allowed Santas in as others left the back door.


This time of year, plenty of local bus companies run trips to the city. Or take Amtrak for a quicker-- and more expensive-- trip. Being dropped off at 33th Street's Penn Station is another advantage.

Harrisburg's Santacon was the same day as New York City's, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on perspective. Certainly there was a smaller crowd, probably less violent-prone and less traffic. Check the Santacon website for next year's event, to which you can drive and find plenty of parking.

Here's a list of the other world-wide Santacons. You can find them in Nepal, Paris, Hong Kong, Okinawa or Copenhagen.

Philadelphia's Santacon

is Saturday, December 17, and is partnering with Ronald McDonald House. Donations are $5-10. The day begins at Fado Irish Pub at 1500 Locust Street in center city.  If Philadelphia isn't far enough away, check out Hoboken, NJ, or Cleveland, both on Saturday.

And if you leave now, you can reach Anchorage, Alaska, for its Dec. 23 event. Wear your parka though-- the high temperature today is 12, and might be even colder then.

Or check out Saturday's event in Cancun. No woolies needed.