Santa tells me this has been going on for years, but this is the first time in my 12-years in New York City, that I've actually witnessed the invasion of the drunk Santa's, more commonly known as SANTACON. The unorganized organization describes itself this way on its website:
"SantaCon is a not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious & non-logical Santa Claus convention, organized and attended for absolutely no reason."
This past Saturday, an estimated 3,000-6,000 people dressed as Santa and paraded through the streets of Manhattan, sharing holiday cheer in more ways than one. Besides "ho-ho'ing" and generally clogging up Midtown traffic, this was a frantic bar crawl. Several hundred of them swamped and surprised the only bartender at the Blarney Rock, just steps away from where the "convention" began at 33rd and 6th Avenue. James, the bartender tells me they rang up nearly $3,000 in just 90-minutes! Boy, can those Santa's drink. Still, there are rules, as evidenced by this list on the SANTACON website
* Santa looks like Santa. HOLIDAY APPAREL IS MANDATORY. A Santa hat is not enough. Get a Santa suit. Buy a Santa suit. Make a Santa suit. Steal a Santa suit. Get creative: be a Secret Santa, a Santasaurus, Candy-cane, a Reindeer, a Hanukkah Chicken, a goddamn latke, Stewardess Santa, Knight Rider Santa, Crusty Peace Punk Santa, the occasional Legless Reindeer, Hanukkah Squirrel, Emo-Elf, or the Santichrist.
Just don't wear your fucking jeans.
* Santa acts like Santa. Be jolly. Belly-laugh. Let people sit on your lap. Give out gifts.
* Santa doesn't seek media attention. "Ho-ho-ho" is good. "Publicity ho" is lame.
* Santa doesn't get arrested. Please remember the FOUR FUCKS:
1. Don't fuck with kids.
2. Don't fuck with cops.
3. Don't fuck with security.
4. Don't fuck with Santa. (it's okay to fuck a Santa)
One local T.V station reports that police made about a dozen arrests and handed out scores of tickets for everything from open container violations to urinating in public. I'm not sure if this Santa ended up in jail, but he sure looked like he was having fun.
But, that's not so bad considering how many Santa's descended on Gotham.
Back at the Blarney Rock, the jolly celebrants left behind about 60 cans of food. They probably just got tired of hauling them around from pub to pub, so I've arranged to get the food into the right hands. Coincidentally, the New York City Police Department holds its annual canned food drive this month, so I've arranged to get them to a local precinct.