Two winters ago, I accidentally found myself in the East Village on the day of SantaCon. For those fortunate enough to have been spared it, this is an annual holiday event in which punters in Santa costumes (mere hats won’t cut it) pay an entry fee toward charity and then go on a daylong bar crawl. This happens in cities across the globe. My most vivid memory of that nightmarish evening is a single lewd elf stopping traffic as he squatted in the middle of Second Avenue and slowly, hypnotically, rotated his hips to music only he could hear.
SantaCon is one of the easiest targets for snark, but it really is pretty awful. The NYC branch says it’s going legit this year—no public nuisances, no blocking traffic, no street urination or gutters running with vomit—and to this end the organizers have hired a prominent lawyer and posted rules of conduct to its site. (Exposing yourself in public is a sex offense, it reminds the Santas.) In further efforts to curb the charitable, drunken Santas’ behavior, various commuter trains, including the Long Island Railroad, have banned pre-gaming.
This Saturday, grotesquely, SantaCon falls on the same date as a day of anger: Millions March NYC, in which activists will gather at Washington Square Park to protest the killings of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. They will probably not literally converge, if only because the East Village has wearied of SantaCon and fewer establishments are willing to participate. SantaCon organizers acknowledged the situation, stating on their site that “This is a stressful time for New York City, and we are in the midst of a protest that is spreading the NYPD thin. SantaCon has compassion for these civic organizations and is working with them to have a peaceful and joyful holiday celebration.” SantaCon NYC typically attracts upwards of 25,000 people, so this is a real issue of safety and resources.
(I thought this was the most terribly on-the-nose story of the week, but then I read that a TGI Friday’s in Brooklyn had obtained a drone to fly around with a sprig of mistletoe. When a New York Daily News stringer went to report on the festive robot, the drone hit her in the face and cut her nose.)
There are too many cheap jokes to be made here, like so many rejected SNL sketches. But what’s the point? In the immortal words of Doris Day’s Jan Morrow, “Some jokes are just too obvious to be funny.”