By Sarah Tan
Special to DNAinfo
MANHATTAN — Santa might work in the North Pole but he parties in New York.
Thousands of people dressed as Kris Kringle took to the streets of Manhattan Saturday for the annual SantaCon — a holiday ritual that takes costumed revelers on a boozy tour of the city's pubs.
The annual pub crawl, which organizers say is "non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and non-sensical," kicked off at the North Cove Marina in Battery Park City at 10 a.m. as well as Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn.
Over the course of the day, the revelers tipped their glasses and their fuzzy caps at the South Street Seaport, caroled at the New York Public Library, gathered in City Hall Park and fanned out to watering holes around the borough.
While Santa was the most popular outfit, the partiers also donned reindeer, elf and dreidel costumes as they packed the streets and subways, singing carols and spreading holiday cheer.
“My friend told me about it and I thought this is not to be missed,” said Dania Bdeir, 22, who was enjoying her first SantaCon in Battery Park City. “Fifty thousand Santas walking around New York!”
Behind a big beard, Vaudie Puckett, 22, of Delaware, stood outside one of the bars in the North Cove Marina with a friend.
“I think it's great. It's fun that everyone dresses up as Santa,” Puckett said. And of everyone's favorite holiday figure drinking? “Santa has to have a crutch,” he said with a laugh.
In the afternoon, a group of Santas packed onto the 6 train near Union Square.
"It's the first time I've ever seen something like this, only in New York," said stunned straphanger Quincy McCrary, 32. "I'm from LA and people think they're much too cool to do anything.
"It's like a cross between Christmas and Halloween. I've seen many different ethnic Santas, different genders, multi-gender Santas. It's like all Santas are coming together."
SantaCon wasn't just about enjoying holiday cheer. Participants were asked to bring non-perishable food items for donations to charities to the starting point before the bar crawl began and patronize bars that donate to Toys for Tots.
Onlookers snapped photos and took part in the cheer as hordes of Santas sang holiday songs while walking to their next destination.
“I see it every year. They pretty much take over the city,” passerby Damiana Valentini, 35, said in Battery Park City. “It was pretty cool to wake up this morning and see a thousand Santas outside my window though."
And for some, the event was only preparation for the real thing. Theo MacConnell, 56, of Pittsburgh Penn., is a professional Santa who came out for the event. But he said he didn't feel challenged by all the impersonators around.
“I've seen some wonderfully creative ones, I've seen a hip hop Santa, Santa Ninjas, Hanukkah Harrys, it's so cute,” MacConnell said.
MacConnell said he's just there for the atmosphere, though.
“This Santa doesn't drink," he said. "It's not in keeping with the holiday spirit."