SantaCon Slated to Touch Down in East Village, Officials Say

By Alan Neuhauser on December 5, 2013 6:49am 

Slideshow
 SantaCon is coming to town — specifically, the Lower East Side.
SantaCon to Head to Tompkins Square Park
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MANHATTAN — SantaCon is coming to town — specifically, the East Village and Lower East Side.

Police and community leaders said that the annual holiday bar crawl — which typically does not announce its route until the day before the event, flooding neighborhoods with thousands of boozed-up Santas in recent years — will be starting in Tompkins Square Park before wending its way through the Lower East Side and eventually Brooklyn on Dec. 14.

"They're going to be there until about noon, and then wind up in Brooklyn somewhere," a police source told DNAinfo New York. "Hopefully it will be a nice safe day, and hopefully things will be much better than last year."

The police source and Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer said a SantaCon organizer contacted their offices Tuesday.

Stetzer said that she spoke with a SantaCon representative through email, on the phone and in person, adding he was "very friendly and cooperative" in the "several" conversations they had.

"I am hoping management of Santas on sidewalks and streets will be improved," she said.

In past years, SantaCon organizers have announced multiple meetup locations across the city. It was not immediately clear which other locations, if any, would also be used as starting points.

A SantaCon spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the Tompkins Square Park meetup spot, but did note the locations are simply part of a "suggested route."

"The truth is anyone can dress up as Santa and go to any bar in any neighborhood they
choose," said the spokesman, who identified himself as Santa. "That seems to be what's happening in these past few years."

The event has turned holiday cheer to jeers in the past few Christmas seasons as neighbors, community leaders and police lost patience with the drunken hordes.

"[T]housands of intoxicated partygoers roam the streets urinating, littering, vomiting and vandalizing," wrote Midtown North Precinct Lt. John Cocchi in a letter to about 30 bars in his precinct asking them not to welcome participants.

"It is my recommendation that you do not sponsor this event in any way," he wrote.

In a subsequent letter, state Sen. Brad Hoylman and eight other state and city politicians labeled the event a "scourge" and called on organizers to "make public and follow defined routes; ensure respectful participants; and implement a comprehensive safety plan."

Hoylman said Tuesday that organizers have been sharing route information with local police precincts and community boards, "which we think is a very positive step," but he had not heard of any other meetup locations.

"I am firmly reserving judgment, given that kind of flash-mob nature of SantaCon," he said, noting the problem with participants is that they are an "amorphous entity."

"But at least we have an assurance from some of the volunteer organizers that steps are being taken," he said.

"That's more than we've had previously."

The state senator added that he and other politicians will ask police precincts to step up patrols in the affected areas.

"This is a serious concern for a lot of local residents," he said, "and we have to take it as such."

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