NYC tries to clean up SantaCon bar crawl's reputation



QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:45 PM ET

Organizers of the popular and controversial SantaCon event in New York issued a warning on its Facebook page Saturday in an attempt to clean up its naughty reputation.

"Remember to keep your spirits contained and your candy cane in your pants, Santa," they suggested just before an army of New Yorkers dressed as Santas, elves and reindeer descended on Manhattan for a day-long bar crawl.

SantaCon began in 1997 and organizers describe it as "a non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and non-sensical Santa Claus convention that occurs once a year for absolutely no reason."

Not all New Yorkers share the holiday spirit expressed by the SantaCon nation. Some community groups have set up Santa Free zones and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority temporarily banned the possession and consumption of alcohol on several trains.

SantaCon's focus is "on spontaneity and creativity, while having a good time and spreading cheer and goodwill," the MTA said. "However, in past years some participants have been cited as a public nuisance."

John Cocchi, a police lieutenant in Hell's Kitchen, where Santas converged last year, sent an open letter to bar owners urging caution when it came to serving Santas.

"Having thousands of intoxicated partygoers roam the streets urinating, littering, vomiting and vandalizing will not be tolerated in our neighborhood," he wrote.

SantaCon, which bills itself as a charity fundraiser, is now held in 317 locations in 44 countries. In New York City, the event has grown from several hundred people in the first year to an estimated 30,000 last year, the New York Times reported.