By Sabina Mollot
Santacon, the annual event in which revelers stumble from one watering hole to the next while dressed as Santa, is apparently not a pub crawl at all.
So say the organizers in an open letter to local elected officials who on Monday, in their own letter, had asked the organizers to rein in the massive event, and publicly disclose its route ahead of time.
Santacon’s letter was signed by the group’s attorney Norman Siegel and nameless “NYC Santacon organizers,” who wrote, “Santacon is not a bar-crawl as you call it. Thousands of your constituents participate in and enjoy Santacon.”
The organizers have steadfastly remained anonymous. This letter, sent to the media via email, came from “Kristopher Kringle” and an interview with a head organizer in Gothamist would only reveal that he was a 40-year-old resident of the East Village.
The letter also claimed that the organizers had disclosed the route for this year’s event, which takes place on Saturday, to the NYPD.
The entire route won’t be announced publicly until late Friday.
“I’ve heard rumors it’s going to be in the East Village,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman on Tuesday, “which they will not confirm or deny.”
Additionally, the event is supposed to start in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park, according to the Parks Department. A spokesperson said the only park the event was permitted for was McCarren. This is for 10 a.m. in the morning when 800-1,000 people are expected for a photo op at two football fields. In an official statement, the department said organizers had complied with its requests and those of the NYPD’s “and we expect a well-organized event.”
Town & Village also reached out to the NYPD to ask if the department had received the information about the route ahead of time and if it would share the route or at least the neighborhoods it’s set to take place in.
In response, police skirted the question with a brief email that said, “The NYPD will have an adequate detail in place for Santacon.” A question in response to this about whether the NYPD had the information on the route but was choosing not to disclose it was not responded to.
Hoylman, who’d been one of the politicians to write to Santacon, said he too, did not get information on the route, after asking the NYPD if Santacon had shared it with the department as its organizers claimed.
Hoylman has been in contact with organizers over the past few years (anonymously through email), having previously asked them to better police their participants, who’ve become known for rowdy behavior ranging from public urination to brawling on the street. He’s previously asked them to take their act to Jersey. In recent years, they’ve held the event in the East Village and Murray Hill.
After seeing their response letter, Hoylman said, “Santacon needs to grow up. I’m glad they responded to our concerns but I wish they would take their event more seriously by providing their route. There’s no reason why Santacon has to be a spontaneous flashmob. It’s just too big. We wish they’d respect our local communities to plan a better, safer event.”
He also expressed concern about the diversion of police as well as the businesses located along the route of the event.
“It doesn’t help our businesses,” he said. “It deters people from shopping locally because, frankly, no one wants to be around a bunch of drunken Santa Clauses. We’re seeking more SLA inspectors to ensure licensees make sure they understand their responsibility here.”
Santacon, however, in its letter, stressed that it in response to concerns, organizers have been “tailoring” the event to “mitigate its negative aspects.”
This includes communicating with participants via social media throughout the event to encourage responsible behavior, like not crowding sidewalks, and coordinating this year’s event with police.
Last year, the organizers added, there were no event-related arrests.