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Revelers dressed as Santa Claus drink inside at a bar in the East Village neighborhood during the annual SantaCon bar crawl event on Dec. 14, 2013 in New York City. In New York some community groups have established a 'Santa Free' zone that urges bars not to serve alcoholic beverages to people participating in order to dissuade incidents of public vomiting and urination in the streets.
It's time once again for an annual subculture Christmas event you may not be aware of — SantaCon. Men and women dress up as Santas and Santaettes (or Mrs. Clauses, elves or reindeer), then go barhopping in cities around the world en masse. It's a full day event, morning to night, so keep an eye out for a Santa near you.
The first SantaCon took place in 1994 in San Francisco, but it's gone global with events coast to coast and in 44 countries, according to SantaCon.info. The biggest event is in New York City with around 30,000 Santas participating, but Los Angeles gets in on the fun too with more than 500 participants in recent years, according to local SantaCon organizers.
L.A. has played home to its own SantaCon for more than 10 years. This year's L.A. SantaCon's starting point is El Mercadito Mariachi, but the rest of their march through town is kept under (gift) wraps. They're taking the Metro and a special SantaCon bus (for those who've purchased "sleigh passes") in order to be responsible Santas.
The NYC SantaCon has faced a backlash in recent years, as that many Santas who may be partaking in a few too many beverages can get a little out of hand. The L.A. event has tended to be at least slightly kinder and gentler, though.
However, that's not to say they're completely clear of any troublemaking — they do practice their own Santa omertà, with the official policy being that the answer to questions like "Who's in charge?" and "Who organized this?" should all be "Santa," according to local SantaCon organizers. They also ask participants not to give out any identifying information.
The Santas also have an official songbook, ranging from the classics, to holiday-themed drinking songs, to... well... "O Come All Ye Perverts." Yup. Read the full thing here, along with some holiday pickup lines and the SantaCon rules.
Follow the L.A. Santa madness in the Twitter widget below, with their first meeting beginning at 11 a.m. and running (dashing?) late into the night: