Hoylman takes aim at SantaCon though SLA

A Santa suit, or part of it, discarded at the corner of 23rd Street and First Avenue on Saturday (Photo by Mark Thompson)

A Santa suit, or part of it, discarded at the corner of 23rd Street and First Avenue on Saturday (Photo by Mark Thompson)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who recently got the organizers of SantaCon to agree to a few rules to prevent the public disturbances it’s become known for, said he also has another weapon aimed at the annual pub crawl: the State Liquor Authority.

Following the return of the event last weekend, Hoylman told Town & Village he thought another way to prevent participants from binge drinking was to report any bars that serve inebriated patrons to the SLA. He also thought one of the NYPD’s tactics, attempting to discourage bars from participating, was a good idea.

“The problem isn’t that Santas are coming to New York; the problem is the binge drinking,” said Hoylman. “So I’m having conversations with the SLA about the next steps we can take.”

The senator, who attended SantaCon on Saturday to observe how things were going, said he didn’t personally see any of the promised “elves” along the route who were supposed to manage the crowds and weed out any bad Santas. This was one of the things organizers had agreed to do previously, along with share the event’s route ahead of time with precincts and community boards. The organizers did do the latter though, said Hoylman, which he said seemed to help in terms of keeping the event mostly under control.

“The police were able to step up their presence, which seemed to have some effect,” he said. However, he called the event of a brawl between several St. Nicks on 16th Street and Third Avenue “a distressing incident.”

This year, countless Kris Kringles and other Christmas-themed costumed characters trudged through a snowstorm to head from bar to bar in the East Village and the Lower East Side before heading to Brooklyn. The event has grown over the years, despite backlash from residents of neighborhoods it visits and organizers’ protests about how its purpose is actually to raise money for various charities.

Organizers have also previously told T&V they agree with Hoylman that bad behavior reported at previous crawls, like public urination and vomiting, is unacceptable.

Last week, Hoylman mentioned he and other elected officials were going to meet with the organizers of SantaCon, who’d previously only identified themselves to him through first names over the phone. Hoylman has since said that meeting will likely take place soon after the New Year. A spokesperson for SantaCon said this week via email that there were in fact 100 volunteers dubbed “Santa’s Secret Service” on patrol, and that “We look forward to meeting with and discussing the future of SantaCon with the senator.”

The rep added that organizers are still figuring out how much money the event raised.

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Santas in post-crawl brawl on Third Ave.

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

By Sabina Mollot

While SantaCon largely steered clear of the neighborhoods north of the East Village this past weekend, thanks to a widely circulated video on YouTube there’s evidence of a brawl between several Santas near Union Square. On Saturday at 8 p.m., the evening of this year’s annual pub crawl, the not quite jolly old St. Nicks got into a beat-down at the corner of East 16th Street and Third Avenue. The video shows half a dozen costumed men punching and kicking each other in the snow outside Joe Junior’s restaurant, before they eventually run or walk off.

According to Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg, the commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, police had gotten a call about the fight, but by the time officers arrived, it was over.

“We are currently investigating that incident,” Ehrenberg said. “We’ve interviewed the person who took the video.” But, he added, “We have no victims in that no one’s come forward.”

As for whether or not he thought it was related to SantaCon, which ended earlier, Ehrenberg said, “A bunch of Santas beating the crap out of each other? Probably.”

Still, he noted, as far as the 13th Precinct went, the naughty behavior was an isolated incident. The precinct covers the north side of 14th Street up to 30th Street from the East River to Seventh Avenue. SantaCon’s route included the East Village and Lower East Side as well as parts of Brooklyn this year.

In response to the street fight, a rep for SantaCon told Town & Village, “No arrests have been reported to us. We have all seen the unfortunate fight video that took place outside of the suggested route and hours after the event had ended. It saddens Santa that these types of people put on Santa suits.”

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)