MANHATTAN — A splinter group of SantaCon revelers disappointed in the lack of LGBT-friendly bar options on the main route have charted their own holiday-themed pub crawl Saturday.
Gay SantaCon, now in its second year, drew approximately 75 participants last year seeking the company of other gay, lesbian and transgender revelers who prefer to patronize bars that cater to them — while also avoiding the rowdy crowd that packed the main event.
"The point of Gay SantaCon is to have fun, provide a safe and fun environment for the LGBT community and their allies, support the gay bars, and just have a gay ol’ time!" said the organizer, who only gave his name as Gay Santa.
Officially, SantaCon does not explicitly include or exclude gay bars from their route. Last year, however, their route included neighborhood bars, college bars, sports bars, a strip club, a music venue, but no gay bars, according to Gay SantaCon organizers.
Unlike SantaCon, Gay SantaCon's pub crawl route is not top secret. The LGBT-friendly event will kick off with a noon brunch at Elmo Restaurant in Chelsea at Seventh Ave at 19th Street, followed by a trip to Boxer's bar on 20th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, Gym Sportsbar at 167 Eighth Ave., Barracuda bar on 275 W. 22nd St., and end with a trip to legendary LGBT hub The Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street.
Although this is the first year Stonewall is officially on the list, the bar has been overwhelmed by wandering Santas the last two years. They welcome all santas, regardless of religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation.
"Straight or gay, they all want to drink," a manager at Stonewall said Friday.
Last year's inagural Gay SantaCon event in Hell's Kitchen occassionally overlapped with the larger SantaCon, but mostly went into the neighborhood's gay bars, organizers said.
"Unfortunately, the larger SantaCon wreaked havoc [last year]," the Gay SantaCon organizer said. "Not us, we were very well-behaved."
This year, they plan to stay away from the larger group. More than 100 people are expected to join the pub crawl, Gay Santa said.
Like SantaCon organizers, Gay Santa encourages particpants to donate to Toys for Tots.