After years of terrorizing residents of midtown and downtown Manhattan, the revelers of SantaCon — an annual pub-crawl that brings thousands of Santa costume-clad bros and babes streaming into the city and flocking to its bars — are meeting some resistance. Not the informal, "get out of my bar" resistance that locals have been mounting for years, but actual police involvement. DNAinfo reports that Manhattan's Midtown North Precinct (which oversees Hell's Kitchen, a popular SantaCon neighborhood), has sent letters to 30 local bars urging them to turn away Santas this December 14, saying "having thousands of intoxicated partygoers roam the streets urinating, littering, vomiting and vandalizing will not be tolerated in our neighborhood." Finally the authorities are fighting back. Just with a letter, yes, but still. It's something.
Though, one thing about this news is troubling. As Foster Kamer points out at First We Feast, the bulk of bad SantaCon behavior actually takes place downtown, in the East Village and in Greenwich Village. So if those midtown Santas are shunned from that neighborhood, does that mean more Santas downtown? That is a concern at least for this writer, who unfortunately lives at the epicenter of the East Village SantaCon scene.
Non-New Yorkers might wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, isn't this just a bit of harmless fun? If they actually experienced the event, they would likely immediately side with the NYPD on the matter. (Which is saying something!) The Santas vomit, pee, and litter everywhere. They clog every sidewalk in the neighborhood, all day. They are loud, they are aggressive, and this writer has had more gay slurs thrown at him by drunk SantaCon Santas than he can count. Which has never, literally never, happened to me in New York on a non-SantaCon day.
It's a bad crowd, emboldened by alcohol and the sheer force of their numbers. The organizers may try to put a positive spin on the event by highlighting its ostensible charitable mission or writing a Santa's Code that urges participants to not pee on the street or trash property, but SantaCon will always be terrible, no matter what.
There may be nothing to be done about it, though. Sure, precincts can urge bars to turn away Santas and locals can get involved in other ways, but like St. Patrick's Day or, y'know, most Saturday nights on the Lower East Side, SantaCon might just be an inevitable loud, drunken nuisance of city life. Those that don't like it can simply go uptown, or to one of the other boroughs. Though, how long can it really be until the Santas trickle over into Brooklyn, by which point it will already be too late?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.