SantaCon, now in its 8th year is an annual gathering of both men and women dressing up as Mr. or Misses Klaus and bar hopping throughout Manhattan. It has become quite infamous throughout the city but despite police closely monitoring them and hesitant bar owners it labored through a small snow storm on Saturday, December 14th and still drew crowds scattered throughout the city in the thousands.
That was a big difference from most people in NYC , who often kept it local on Saturday as the driving winds and wet snow made it difficult and messy to have a good night out on the town.
To understand why Santa Con is so wildly looked forward to by some, reviled by others and have police profiling any Santa's on a given day you have to understand the event.
To make a long story short SantaCon was devised as an event, especially now in the age of social media where people could take a debaucherous take on Santa Con and bar hop through the city. The social media aspect is key because people have to text a certain number and it give you real time information on where the next bar is going to be or its just spur in the moment within the group. There is people who've created the website, but there's no recognizable leaders per say and people often strike out on their own.
Santa Con has gone from several hundred people to last year an estimate of 30,000. Whew that's a lot of tipsy much less drunken folks. Even if most people are acting within reason that many Santa's in Midtown Manhattan is bound to get a police response. The fact that quite a few people caught police off guard in a mini St. Patrick's Day parade, well it was bound to be some problems.
As far as the Santa Braul that you saw on the NY Post website, well there's always a few of those going around when you have the bridge and tunnel crowd; I'm just saying. There was a reason that Metro North and LIRR barred having open liquor and beer on the train, because the bulk of people hanging in midtown bars for SantaCon where Jersey and Long Island undesirables. I have nothing against Long Island and Jersey but that particular weekend warrior crowd that comes into the city in midtown is a remix of Jersey Shore meets Suburbatory.
Look there were more police out this weekend than usual in midtown in anticipation of problems and only 10 summonses were issued, that's not bad and I myself was in midtown for a while and ran into revelers and they caroused and had a good time but I did not find them particularly badly behaved in 2013.
I personally believe the whole reason that SantaCon became such a much watched event is that Santa is beloved family figure, and the fact that people were quite brazenly drunk in Midtown Manhattan next to tourist and shoppers is not an image that those in the imaging of NYC want. This same event in the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, and even the Meatpacking District would just be, "Look at those crazy kids/hipsters/clubbers doing what they do". Make no doubt about it folks, its as much about the location as it is the event. That's why less arrests this year, more people were aware and they kept it to areas that can handle the events better, Hell's Kitchen isn't that area any more and Grammercy sure as hell ain't it or Murray Hill.
Now let's get to why locals are down on the event. As far as some of the Lower East Side bars keeping them out, again this isn't a local event that's considered "cool" and underground anymore. Once that edge is cut away and it becomes mainstream a lot of the people in hip neighborhoods just view it as the damn main streamers cornballing it up and boring it down. Santa Con also just happens to appeal to the belligerent side of some folks so that becomes a volatile mix for some nightlife people.
Look city people and cool areas of Brooklyn don't like tourists invading what they see as a scene for people in the know, and acting an ass just reinforces that feeling for patrons and bar owners alike.
Ready for the twist to all of this. Christmas in NYC in the early 1800's was a debaucherous affair that was rowdy. The employees or less fortunate demanded that the bosses or more wealthy treat them to a feast and if not there was not so pleasant consequences. That began to change when a New Yorker, Clement Clark Moore wrote the epic poem, 'Twas the Night before Christmas" or a Visit from St. Nicholas around 1823.
So that's where we are at Santa Con people, hated by locals for being tour touristy, and hated in areas visited by tourists in midtown for not promoting their type of tourism yet never the less heavily attended. Aaah, nightlife in the city, always interesting.