- SantaCon is a massive bar crawl that takes place across the world each year.
- The event has become widely hated in New York, where drunken Santas crowd the city’s bars.
- We visited Midtown in the afternoon of December 9 to see what this year’s festivities were like.
SantaCon, a giant bar crawl that encourages grown men and women to dress in Santa Claus costumes in more than 100 cities around the world, descended on New York City this weekend. Dating back to 1994 and created by the same group that started Burning Man, SantaCon was originally meant to serve as a commentary on consumerism.
But, the event has taken on a life of its own, with an estimated 30,000 Santas attending – some even coming from other states to do so. It has now become one of the most hated bar crawls in New York, often leading to public urinating, fights, and Santas passing out in subway stations.
This year, New York’s version of the annual crawl took place in Midtown, during the season’s first snow.
Chris Metts, an event coordinator at The Liberty, was excited that the crawl was happening in Midtown again this year. Metts told Business Insider that the bar orders more alcohol – specifically, Jameson and Fireball – in preparation.
“There’s a lot of Fireball at SantaCon,” he said. The bar also prefers canned beers over draft because, according to Metts, “they’re easier to go, and quicker to give out.”
When asked about the crackdown on open containers that was planned for the subway and the area’s commuter train systems ahead of SantaCon this year, Metts said he hadn’t heard about it.
“Good luck to them,” he said.
Having never been to SantaCon, I bravely ventured out, walking the streets of Midtown in the early afternoon to see what kind of debauchery had already started in the city.
It started snowing in the early morning on Saturday, and although temperatures were in the lower 30s, it didn’t stop the Santas from enjoying themselves.
By 1 p.m., people were already in long lines outside of various bars, including John Sullivan’s Bar and Grill on 35th Street and 7th Avenue.
Trying to coordinate your crew during SantaCon can be tricky.
The official SantaCon Twitter handle was tweeting out suggestions on the bars to head to next.
People seemed to already be in good spirits …
… and ready to pose for photos.
It was easy to spot who was a part of the bar crawl — and who wasn’t.
Some wore jewelry and printed suits …
… while at least one person came as a Christmas-loving joker.
Some wore capes …
… while this guy dressed as Jesus.
One man had a baby doll strapped to himself and asked if I wanted to “touch a real baby.”
The bar Stout, on 33rd Street, wasn’t allowing anyone under the age of 23 to enter.
Inside, drinks were already being spilled, and people were dancing to Christmas music.
The bar was well-prepared with multiple people manning the door, five bartenders on staff, and people working the floor.
And even as the snow started to come down harder, it didn’t discourage any Santas, and the lines stayed long.