Naughty or nice, SantaCon revelers descend on New York

Sat Dec 12, 2015 7:35pm EST
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By Alexander Besant

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of merrymakers dressed like Santa Claus and his elves took to the streets of New York on Saturday for the annual pub crawl known as SantaCon, a Yuletide rite with a reputation for inspiring bad behavior among the revelers.

While some bar owners reported respectful crowds of red-and-white clad partiers, social media was alive with photos of Santas mooning motorists, passed out in doorways, and urinating on the street.

But thankfully, said bar manager Carlos Virgil, those particular Santas did not show up at Viva Tor in Brooklyn's hip Williamsburg neighborhood.

"We had a safe event for everybody, and I'm happy about that because in the past, SantaCon has had a bad reputation," said Virgil, whose bar hosted more than 1,000 Santas and elves as an official SantaCon destination.

More than 14,000 people signed up to participate on the SantaCon NYC Facebook page.

"I'm just here to have fun and be a part of something," said a Santa-suited Terance McNamara, 25, of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Last year, some city officials urged bar and restaurant owners to boycott the event for fear of rowdiness, vomiting and public urination, which has marred some of the events in the past. But the backlash appears to have eased as organizers have worked to re-brand the event as a good-spirited fundraiser for charity.

"We are trying to transit from what SantaCon was to something more positive for this year and in the future," said Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer who is working with the organizers.   Continued...

Revelers dressed in Santa Claus and other holiday themed outfits take part in the annual SataCon event in the Brooklyn borough of New York, December 12, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid