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SantaCon Hires Civil Rights Lawyer Norman Siegel to Help with 'Transition'

By Lisha Arino | December 10, 2014 4:32pm
 Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel (pictured here in 2012) was hired by SantaCon organizers to help during its "transition."
Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel (pictured here in 2012) was hired by SantaCon organizers to help during its "transition."
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Cindy Ord/Getty Images

NEW YORK CITY — SantaCon has hired prominent civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel to help guide the controversial pub crawl through a “transition,” organizers announced Wednesday.

The yuletide booze-fest is “investigating other parade and festival-like options for 2015 and beyond,” with hopes to turn the Dec. 13 gathering into a beloved Big Apple tradition like the Village Halloween Parade, organizers said in a statement.

“SantaCon has become a second Halloween for many. If all goes well this year we hope next year to grow SantaCon into a more beloved event much like the Halloween parade did when it transformed from 100,000 participants on the streets of the west village to an organized parade,” the group said in an email to DNAinfo.

Organizers did not elaborate on their decision to retain Siegel, whose clients include Occupy Wall Street protesters and Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was forcibly quarantined in New Jersey after she returned from Sierra Leone, where she was helping to fight Ebola.

Siegel did not immediately reply to a request for comment but said in a statement that he was looking forward to working with SantaCon participants “to ensure that their activities are respected in accordance with the principles and values provided for in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

News of Siegel's hire was first reported by Gothamist.

SantaCon, which drew 30,000 people to the Lower East Side and East Village last year, has been blasted by locals, business owners and elected officials who say the costumed pub crawl brings vomiting, public urination, vandalism and littering by bar-goers.

The event’s raucous reputation has also prompted Metro-North to impose a 24-hour ban on alcohol on trains and in stations from 9 a.m. on Dec. 13 to 9 a.m. the next day, it said in a press release.

However, organizers insist that SantaCon has donated tens of thousands of dollars to charity.

The event has also been asking participants to be respectful on its social media accounts, using the hashtag #dontscroogesantacon.

"While this event will always poke fun at society and the overly-commercialized aspects of the holiday (culture jamming), Santa and the Elves are working closely with city officials, the Parks Department and NYPD on better formats to manage the event while growing it as a much beloved annual tradition for the city,” they said in a statement.

SantaCon had originally planned to bring the event to Bushwick but pulled out after the city denied the use of Maria Hernandez Park as a kick-off space because it did not have the capacity for the event.

It is unclear where it will take place this year, although organizers have told Manhattan’s Community Board 3 that it will not take place in the East Village or Lower East Side this year.