On Saturday, there will be SantaCon, an all-day pub crawl where New Yorkers dress in Santa suits to allegedly celebrate the holiday season.
It doesn’t matter that bars tried to ban it, and it doesn’t matter that there are horror stories on horror stories about things that have happened on this fateful day.
And the problem with it — the real problem — is that on SantaCon, New York City gets hazed, and New York City has no choice in the matter.
The City gets hazed by hundreds of drunken fools escaped from the Donkey Island where Pinocchio lost all semblance of shame. It gets hazed by girls who are crying because they lost their jacket. It gets hazed by the boyfriend holding that jacket who can’t stop saying “you always get this way when you’re drunk, Lindsey.”
It could be an awesome event. New York can handle St. Patrick’s Day’s coordinated outfits. It can handle the all-day drinking involved with the World Cup. New Years Eve, even. This is a town that survives tons and tons of outsiders coming in for New Year’s Eve. Yet we can’t do SantaCon.
People — a bar owner actually saw a midday knife fight one year.
During SantaCon, the moment someone puts on that Santa outfit, they do not decide to be a jolly twinkle-eyed gift-giver with a love for sweets. They become the biggest, jerkiest, frat star on the planet and it’s time for rush. There is a true sense of nastiness and mischief in the day.
This is only natural, as SantaCon is used as an excuse to competitively drink hard liquor the same way people drink beer on Super Bowl Sunday.
Now the rest of us New Yorkers can hide, or we can go about our business. By going about our business, though, we implicitly participate in the day. We give these drunken Santas people to torment. We are the reindeer, the elves, and our town is the North Pole. We are the pledges.
There is no containing this, really. All we can do is be glad that Mayor Bloomberg has been so strict about concealed weapons.
SantaCon isn’t about being merry or a sense of holiday community; it’s about the kind of debauchery that has people lighting cars on fire after hockey games — the wild immature desire to invade, overrun and destroy a space that doesn’t belong to you.
People do this because they want to feel powerful, they want to feel in control. In that way it is a perfect haze.
And it has to stop.