WEST VILLAGE — Boots and Saddle, the longtime West Village drag bar that was almost forced out of the neighborhood last year, is holding its 10th annual Toys for Tots drive this year.
After 40 years on Christopher Street, the bar's owners fought for a year to stay in the Village when area residents blocked their attempts to secure a new space. They finally moved into their new spacious below-ground home in the old Actors Playhouse building on Seventh Avenue South earlier this year.
The toy drive has been going for a few weeks now, and will culminate Monday night with the annual Boots and Saddle Toys for Tots celebration.
"Every year we're kind of worried in the week or so prior because there's nothing in the [toy collection] boxes," manager Michael Richardson said. "But people show up on the night of the party with loads of stuff."
Richardson said last year the bar collected more than 700 toys and more than $2,000 in cash for the organization, which is run by the United States Marine Reserves to provide children's holiday gifts to parents that can't afford to buy them.
As in years past, U.S. Marines will be in attendance, Richardson said, and there will be "many drag queens performing."
Richardson said the Marines have enjoyed the event in the past, and will sometimes go behind the bar to make drinks and "auction them off."
"It's more of a joke than anything else," Richardson said. "They'll tell [customers] $50, and the money goes in the locked box they bring."
Richardson said that as in previous years, there's "very little stuff" in the collection boxes, but he's hopeful.
"We're always concerned on the run in," he said. "But every year, people just pack in the night of and just bring tons of gifts with them."