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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