Santacon has been a part of New York City's holiday season for nearly a quarter-century now, and after last year's event was canceled because of the pandemic, the roving all-day party was back with a vengeance on Saturday as thousands of jolly revelers swarmed parts of Midtown and the East Village.
At 9 a.m. on Sunday, the NYPD told Gothamist there were no incidents to report from the event. While at least one video of a fight has surfaced, it's unclear if it's from this year's Santacon (the Daily Mail reports several fights had to be broken up).
Katie Sweeny came in from Long Island and was having a great time at Santacon's starting point, the pedestrian plaza on Broadway just south of Times Square. "This is my first Santacon because I haven't been here for the holidays the last two years, so I'm super excited," she told Gothamist. "We took the 9:21 am LIRR and are hitting up all the bars. All! The! Bars! I'm finally 21! I'm super excited!"
The MTA took caution and banned alcohol from all Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains and stations for a 32 hour period, ending at noon on Sunday.
As always, the effort and creativity that went into individual costumes varied considerably, from elaborate pagan snow gods to dudes who just, like, wore a red shirt. There were hordes of Santas, of course, from the traditional-looking to nightmarish. There were reindeer, snowpeople, Christmas trees, Grinches, and lots and lots of rude "ugly sweaters." The record-warm weather allowed many participants to strip off most of their layers as the day wore on.
One trio of women from the East Village showed up as "Mr. WorldClause"—Anika Perrera attempted to explain: "It's Pitbull, but Santa. This is our first Santacon, and we're here because we were drunk and thought of the idea and decided to make it happen." Her friend Morgan Schreiber laid out the Mr. WorldClause agenda for the day. "We're in it to win it, we decided if we're going, we gotta go all out."
Santacon haters took to Twitter early and often, but the upside, the hordes of thirsty (and, eventually, hungry) visitors bring money to local businesses--many of which, especially in Midtown, were hit hard by the pandemic. Plus, according to the Santacon NYC website, in the past ten years, the event has raised more than $750,000 for organizations like City Harvest, the Ali Forney Center, the Secret Sandy Claus Project, and the Food Bank for New York City.
But let's be real. The vast majority of people were out there to party. As Shantel Nunoz, who came down from Washington Heights with a crew of seven, said: "This is my first Santacon! It's fun, it's exciting! You know we're going to have a good time. We're here to take over New York today! I just hope everyone stays responsible..."