In the post that celebrated my first blogoversary earlier this month, I mentioned that I was looking forward to attending the latest Santacon as eagerly as I was awaiting any of my upcoming international travels. And this past Saturday, Santacon once again exceeded my expectations.
For the uninitiated, Santacon is an annual, all-day-long gathering of thousands of people dressed as Santas as well as an assortment of other characters (some of whom relate to the holiday season and some of whom have no particular connection to this time of year). The Santaconners run around throughout the city, pausing at various landmarks as well as watering holes. Santacon is held in dozens of countries around the world, but the one in New York City generally has the largest turnout. Ellen of the travel blog “The Time-Crunched Traveler” included Santacon on her list of “10 ways to celebrate Christmas in New York City”. (However, Ellen and I have a friendly disagreement about Santacon, as she doesn’t appreciate the event in the way that I do. In fact, she wrote, “[Santacon] is not really something I have a desire to actually participate in.” But as far as I’m concerned, she’s missing out! :))
My blog post about the 2011 edition of Santacon, which you can read here, provides more background on what Santacon is all about.
The 2012 Santacon in New York City got underway in Hudson River Park at Pier 84, at 10:00 a.m.
In the backdrop in these shots you can see the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a floating museum built on an aircraft carrier. The Intrepid was where I visited a Space Shuttle in August 2012.
Here I am at Santacon 2012, with one of the best Santas I’ve ever seen:
One of the things that makes Santacon so special is the boundless creativity displayed by the participants. Sure, the folks in Santa suits will always be at the heart of the event; but it’s fun to see some of the alternative themes that attendees come up with.
One of the strangest sights at this year’s Santacon was a Santa with a horse’s head.
It turned out that there were actually not one, but two equine Santas. And then things got really weird . . .
Some of the Santacon participants are truly not human:
No matter how many times I attend Santacon, it never gets old. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, there’s always a surprise in store. For example, this year a dodgeball game broke out among the Santas!
And although not as violent, the limbo session was also quite entertaining:
Eventually, the time came for the Santas to proceed to the next zone, consisting of some nightclubs and bars in the Hell’s Kitchen area.
From there, the Santas fanned out to midtown. I decided to walk to Times Square, the Crossroads of the World. On my way, I ran into an individual reprising his role from last year’s Santacon: the birthday boy himself!
The thing about being in Times Square is that you can’t tell whether a costumed person has anything to do with Santacon. There are, of course, the Elmos, Mickey Mouses, and Spongebobs who pose for photographs with tourists (for a fee), 365 days a year. I’m not sure whether this next guy fits into that category, or whether he was taking part in Santacon. I also have no idea who he’s trying to be; if he’s a film or television character, it’s not one that I’m familiar with.
As with previous Santacons, the red TKTS steps in Times Square made a fine gathering place.
As the day turned into evening, the Santacon action shifted to the East Village. I checked out a couple of bars in that neighbourhood, where I met some more interesting characters. One of them was Count von Count from Sesame Street, but sadly I screwed up my picture-taking of him, and I have no suitable image of the Count to share with you.
So anyway, on Saturday morning I was fretting that soon I may be too old to continue going to Santacons. But Andy (shown below with his wife Jennifer), proves that the true spirit of Santacon is something that need never be outgrown. As a gentleman, I won’t reveal Andy’s age; but he graciously agreed to be photographed for this blog post to illustrate the principle that you’re never too old for Santacon! He’s an inspiration to me, that’s for sure.
Bringing the day’s festivities to a close was the traditional afterparty. The Santacon afterparty for 2012 was held at a club called Warsaw in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Greenpoint is a Polish enclave, and Warsaw offers pierogies, kielbasa, and Polish beer in addition to the usual drink choices.
By the way, there was reportedly a couple at Warsaw on Saturday night who were considerably older than Andy. Sadly, I didn’t run across them myself. But the main reason I’m disappointed in not meeting them is that they were giving out absinthe to other partygoers! Still, I enjoyed the afterparty.
And finally: the vast majority of Santacon participants wear costumes connected to Christmas, and you can always count on spotting a sizable minority with Hanukkah themes. But I’d never seen someone at Santacon honouring the up-and-coming holiday of Festivus — until now. Meet Heather, who inexplicably insists that you call her “Chuck”:
In five years of going to Santacon, I still have yet to find a participant wearing a Kwanzaa-related outfit. Maybe that will finally happen in 2013!
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