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SantaCon to Avoid Hell's Kitchen This Year After Complaints, Organizers Say

By Mathew Katz | October 1, 2013 7:01am
  The move comes after locals complained of bad Santas terrorizing the West Side.
SantaCon to Avoid Hell's Kitchen
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HELL'S KITCHEN — Ho, ho, ho no more.

Hordes of sloshed Santas will once again ring in the holiday season during the annual SantaCon booze fest this year, but it won't be in Hell's Kitchen.

After locals complained that "drunken louts" wreaked havoc in the neighborhood last year, a group of concerned Hell's Kitchen residents reached out to the event's anonymous organizers, begging them to move the event.

"Saint Nick" responded, saying the group is aware of the issues surrounding the party's exponential growth.

"As far as us coming to Hell's Kitchen this year, you don't have anything to worry about," the organizer wrote in a Sept. 27 email, obtained by DNAinfo New York. "SantaCon changes its route every year. Happy Sukkot."

SantaCon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The seasonal rampage of thousands of revelers — dressed as Santas, elves, reindeer and other holiday characters — brought its fair share of headaches for locals, including three women who had to be taken to hospitals after blacking out and another Kris Kringle who was so violent in an emergency room that he was handcuffed by cops.

The 2012 SantaCon kicked off at Pier 84, meaning that Hell's Kitchen was the epicenter of the bad Santas. In previous years, the Santas had also descended on the neighborhood, but residents said 2012 was much worse.

"My children and I witnessed public urination, assaults on locals and outright nudity during the eight hours the Santas were in our neighborhood," wrote Katherine Consuelo-Johnson, a mother and member of Community Board 4.

"As a parent of small children I had to explain why Santa was misbehaving. That was a conversation that should of [sic] never happened."

Despite organizers' assurances, locals were skeptical the party would not return.

"They don't say where they're going to be until the week before they're going to do it," said Tom Cayler of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance. 

"It's an anonymous email, so how can we trust it? We don't even know who these people are."

Organizers said the event raised about $45,000 last year for the Marine Toys for Tots program, though a representative from the charity said that SantaCon was not sanctioned by them. 

"We do not have any information on this event," wrote David Adamson, the organization's operations chief, in an email. 

"I have asked my V.P. of marketing about this and showed him the flier that is attached. He says he has never seen this and would not approve this."

Cayler and other residents have already begun to take precautionary measures in the hopes of stopping the Santas from turning their neighborhood into a naughty North Pole, and hope to convince local bar owners that SantaCon is not affiliated with the charity.

Cops in the Midtown North Precinct also plan an expanded presence if the event careens out of control once again, a source said.

For Cayler, Hell's Kitchen seemed like it would be a destination for the Santas regardless of whether it's an official SantaCon location or not — especially because of the area's abundance of bars.

"Besides going to Williamsburg, where else are the bros going to go and puke?" he said.