Drunk, Brawling Santas Dampen New Yorker’s Christmas Cheer
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What started off as an innocent pub crawl turned into a violent melee when half a dozen Santa-clad revelers battered and bruised each other on the snowy streets of New York City.
On Sunday evening, a group of men dressed as Santa Claus were caught by a camera on Third Avenue near Union Square beating the daylights out of each other following a day of heavy drinking for SantaCon, an annual bar crawl where thousands of Santas besiege New York for typically harmless good fun.
Started in 1997 and featuring events in cities worldwide, SantaCon has become increasingly rowdy in recent years, leading some New Yorkers to become more concerned and even angry with the event. "It was just terrible; they were throwing up in the streets,” said Sandy Bachom, a participant in last year’s event. “It was really just disgusting. I just put a red suit on and have a good time.” Sen. Brad Hoylman echoed similar concern to WABC. "I think New Yorkers generally are extremely tolerant of visitors, but when they come in such droves, and then combine that with public intoxication, it has a negative impact in our neighborhoods,” he said.
By the time police responded to the brawl, the brawling Santas had already dispersed. Regardless of the violence, the New York Police Department publicly remained supportive of the event, even though some officers warned bar owners not to serve anyone in a white beard and red suit. Meanwhile, organizers for SantaCon released a statement on their New York City website. "SantaCon has had growing pains," the release said. "With a little elbow-grease from the elves, a little patience from the community, and just a pinch of holiday magic, SantaCon can spread joy."