Two years ago right at this time I found myself in a divey watering hole in Missoula, Montana. Immediately upon entering I noticed a semi-peculiar site. Huddled up at the bar was a group of about 15 people decked out in Santa suits. I only say semi-peculiar because although it was an interesting sight to see in such an environment I did remind myself that it was the middle of December. They didn’t stay too long and I forgot about the incident.
Last night the scene from a couple years ago came back to me. While looking at the trending stories on a lazy Sunday evening a headline jumped out at me. It said something to the idea of “SantaCon Terrorizing New York Communities.” The article photo showed a group of sloppy, disheveled men in Santa gear. Some had the whole outfit covered, some sported just the Santa beard, some only wore the red suit. It was a hodgepodge of disorganization and they looked terrible. Of course I was intrigued by the headline and the pathetic photo so I decided to learn more.
SantaCon is an established annual event where people dress up in character Christmas attire and bar hop, many not stopping until they have overindulged on Grandma’s egg nog many times over. While countless participants dress in varying degrees of Santa garb, you also see people opting for elf outfits or mascot-like snowmen and Christmas tree suits. This tradition is biggest in New York City where up to 30,000 people participate but it is also prominent in numerous other cities across the nation. In fact, SantaCon has reached to isolated places such as Missoula, completely explaining what I saw on that snowy evening two years ago.
Personally, I don’t mind the premise of the idea. To be completely 100% honest, I find it pretty funny. Although I do understand the other side of the argument. From Halloween to Fourth of July to St. Patrick’s Day to Thanksgiving Eve, many people believe we have enough “drinking holidays.” Not only do we already have enough, but Christmas is the granddaddy of all the holidays to countless people around the nation. To downgrade it to a drunk fest while tackily wearing Santa Claus apparel is a slap in the face to many.
But I stand by my opinion that SantaCon in and of itself is a harmless idea. However, idiots are making it rather despicable. Last night I probably read ten articles of the complete nightmare the event has become, especially in New York City. Participants overwhelm bars, act unruly, and destroy property. But what they do outside the bars is the most appalling. In full daylight in front of the whole community these hoodlums urinate in the streets, vomit in the corners, yell at random people, and make obscene gestures. Worst of all, these SantaCon participants do these activities right in the faces of children. I read numerous accounts about innocent kids walking up to these mean Santas thinking they were the real thing only to be flipped off, chastised, or even spat at. How dare these degenerates ruin the Christmas Magic of a little kid.
SantaCon can be a decent, tolerable event, I just think it needs a bit of a makeover. How about moving it to night where children won’t be exposed to intoxicated Santa imposters? Shifting it to the late evening will also cut down on the insane level of drunkenness some of these Santas reach from drinking all day long, thus cutting down on some of the vandalism and outrageous behavior. Bars have already started to take a stand by not allowing SantaCon participants into their establishments or just closing down entirely on the event day. If more places did this while offering an evening “Santa Frenzy” option I think we could make everyone happy. Heck, I might even throw on my St. Nick suit and join the legion of other Santas in some Yuletide fun. Don’t Blink.