Flatiron gets in the holiday spirit with SantaCon

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SantaCon participants got creative with their costumes as usual, including a group with real pine trees in their backpacks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Revelers donned their best Santa, elf and reindeer costumes for the annual SantaCon pub crawl last weekend, which started in the shadow of the Flatiron building this year. Neighborhood residents let their opposition be known when the Santas gathered on the plaza at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and while the NYPD said there was no record of an arrest, NBC News noted that a handful of the protesters were escorted out of the plaza by police.

The NYPD also noted that no drunk or fighting Santas were arrested as in previous years, and while many in the community were not convinced of their noble intentions, organizers seem to be attempting to clean up the event’s reputation. Organizers on the plaza this past Saturday could be seen picking up bits of trash while the crowd started clearing out by late morning and one Santa berated a photographer climbing onto a planter, yelling at her not to be disrespectful of public property.

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Hoylman to have sit-down with ‘Santa’

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year's SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year’s SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, a coalition of local elected officials led by State Senator Brad Hoylman were able to get the mysterious organizers of SantaCon to agree to a few policy changes to help turn the annual pub crawl from naughty to nice.

This has included the organizers providing the event’s route to local precincts ahead of time and promising to have “elves” on the sidewalks to help keep the roaming crowd of Santas, Mrs. Clauses and other Christmas characters under control on their way from one bar to the next.

Now, said Hoylman, the organizers have also agreed to meet with the politicians face to face following the event to review how things turned out. This, he noted is progress, considering that previously, the organizers had only spoken with the pols over the phone or through email with only first names provided.

SantaCon, which has grown in recent years due to social media, will take place this year on December 14. Hoylman said either he or someone from his office will be “observing” the event, which according to a report in the Daily News, will start at Tompkins Square Park, head to the Lower East Side and end up in Brooklyn.

As Town & Village has reported, officers from the 13th Precinct have previously said they are preparing for the event, due to crowds last year that were larger than expected.Critics, including local precincts and community boards, have complained that the event has become a nuisance due to crowding outside bars and rowdy, drunken behavior that’s included public puking and urinating.

Last week, a rep for the event, who would only identify him or herself as “Santa,” told Town & Village organizers have been trying to be cooperative and were in agreement with Hoylman about bad behavior among participants not being acceptable.

Other politicians in the coalition include State Senators Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried and Council Members Dan Garodnick, Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin.

 

 

13th Precinct sees spike in thefts, burglaries

Police also preparing for upcoming SantaCon pub crawl

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The 13th Precinct saw a 35 percent spike in crime over the last month, mostly in burglaries and grand larcenies. The stats were revealed by Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council on Tuesday. However, Ehrenberg, the precinct’s commanding officer, noted that part of the reason for the increases is because of the comparison to the low numbers last year due to Hurricane Sandy.

The increases in burglaries are mostly due to residential incidents and, noted Ehrenberg, there were no cases of forced entry in the residential burglaries that had occurred.

“They’re getting in through patios, roofs and doors from adjacent buildings,” he said, adding that the crimes are easier to prevent than they are to solve and he reminded residents to lock their doors as well as windows, especially if they lead to a fire escape or balcony.

There has been an increase in grand larcenies as well and an especially large increase in what the NYPD refers to as “picks and dips,” which is when someone is pick-pocketed or their property is left out somewhere and then stolen. Cell phones and wallets are the most commonly stolen items in these cases and Ehrenberg said that it isn’t necessarily the newest model of cell phones that are getting stolen so regardless of how new the phone is, residents should still be vigilant.

Because these crimes are also difficult to solve after the fact, Ehrenberg advised that people be careful with their bags while on the subway and walking down the street.

“The thing about the 13th precinct is that we have a lot of people on our streets and we have to rely on eyewitnesses for solving these crimes,” he said. “A lot of times, crimes like these are reported late because victims don’t notice until later that their property is missing. They say they remember later that they got bumped and maybe their bag wasn’t zipped. If there’s a big gap in the time between when it happened and when it’s reported, it’s hard to figure out who did it.”

The increases in grand larcenies have also been due to victims leaving their property out and having it stolen. Ehrenberg said that there have been three cases in the past month of this happening in the Starbucks on Union Square West, with all items worth more than $1,000.

“It’s like having $1,000 in cash,” he said. “I’m not going to leave that sitting out on the table so why would I leave a laptop out on the table? These items have to be treated like cash.”

Telephone scams, which are recorded as grand larcenies, have also been a problem for the 13th precinct, and Ehrenberg noted that it isn’t just elderly people who are being targeted but that most of the victims have been between the ages of 20 and 40. “Con Edison is not going to ask for cash or a prepaid card and if they come to your door you should always ask to see their identification,” he advised. “If you’re suspicious, call 911 about it.”

Meanwhile, residents at the meeting have already begun expressing concern about the impending arrival of SantaCon, the annual pub crawl that often results in excessive drunkenness in the neighborhood starting in the morning and escalating throughout the day, and which will take place on December 14 this year.

SantaCon revelers gather in front of an East Village bar at last year's event. (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

SantaCon revelers gather in front of an East Village bar at last year’s event. (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

A resident of Stuyvesant Town said that he looked at the website and noticed that there are already 12,000 people who have signed up to participate. Ehrenberg said that police are already planning on increasing their presence on that day and while they try to speak to bar owners and discourage them from participating, he noted that this is difficult since the bars do make money from the event.

“They started earlier than we were expecting last year and last year was ridiculous,” Executive Officer Frank Sorenson added. “Security will be ready earlier this year so we’re more prepared.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Ehrenberg awarded Officer John Dziedzic as Cop of the Month for arresting a man for mugging a 16-year-old deaf boy in October. The boy was on his way to school at PS 347 on East 23rd Street when he was mugged. Ehrenberg said that the officers needed the assistance of two interpreters to communicate with the boy for a description of the man but when they went out with the description, Dziedzic followed him and an arrest was made. He was charged with robbery as well as grand larceny for an incident last year in which he had targeted the same boy.

Last month’s community council meeting was full of residents from buildings on East 28th Street who had complaints about a homeless man who had been causing problems in the neighborhood. As Town & Village reported earlier this month, Ehrenberg said at Tuesday’s meeting that the man, Anthony Lawrence, had been arrested and formally indicted on two high charges, attempted robbery and assault. Ehrenberg noted that his next court date would be November 26 and cops have been working closely with the District Attorney’s office on the issue.