SUNNYSIDE — Santa Claus is bellying up to the bar on Queens Boulevard...for a good cause.
A coalition of neighborhood bars in Sunnyside is gearing up for its second annual Sunnyside Santathon, a holiday-themed pub crawl to raise funds to buy toys for local charities.
Not to be confused with SantaCon — the infamous Manhattan bar crawl on Dec. 14 that's drawn the ire of neighbors for its hordes of misbehaving Santas — the Sunnyside Santathon draws a much mellower crowd, organizers said.
"All the owners of the bars, we all said together, we don’t want it to get messy," said Mickey McCreesh, owner of Bar 43 at 43-06 43rd St., who said last year's Santathon raised thousands of dollars for charity and went off without any mischief.
"It was a lot of fun — there was no trouble at all," he said.
The festivities will kick off Saturday at 3 p.m., when patrons can buy $10 wristbands that get them access to $3 drink specials at the 10 participating bars and restaurants, all located on or near Queens Boulevard.
Proceeds from the wristbands will go toward buying toys for needy children, which then get delivered to local groups organizing holiday gift drives, including the 108th Precinct and St. Raphael's Church. Last year, the event raised almost $5,000, organizers said.
The participating bars — Bar 43, The Courtyard Ale House, Maggie Mae's, The Gaslight, Arriba Arriba, Sidetracks, Molly Bloom's, PJ Horgan's, McGuinness's and Bliss St. Station — will also be collecting unwrapped toy donations up until Christmas.
"It's a great way of helping out the local community," McCreesh said, saying last year's Santathon also donated toys to children affected by Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways.
Sunnyside's Boulevard Bars, as the coalition of businesses is known, formed last year as a way to promote the Queens neighborhood.
"We formed Sunnyside's Boulevard Bars to create events as a group that would bring more business to the area, really make it a destination spot, and highlight what a great neighborhood we have here," Courtyard Ale House owner Pat Burke said in a statement.
"Once we got together, we also saw the opportunity to raise funds for charities, specifically local organizations."
The group organized a "Halfway to St. Patrick's Day" festival in September that raised $5,530 for the Sunnyside/Woodside Boys & Girls Club, and another Irish music festival last spring raised $3,000 for the Leary Firefighters Foundation and the local firehouse, Engine Company 325/Ladder Company 163.