On Saturday, New York will play host to 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 upon 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 immature children hiding behind a costume (because let’s be real, no one who does this is over 25). 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.”
The problem with SantaCon is that it isn’t about fun, it’s about control. The same control a sorority girl exerts when she tells a freshman to get on their knees and quack like a duck. These Santas want to watch New York City quack.
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.
Folks, a bar owner actually saw a midday knife fight one year. This is why Bushwick took a stand and would not allow SantaCon near its cocktail bars, DIY art spaces, or farm-to-table restaurants. Roberta’s Pizza is a citywide treasure, and we cannot have a swarm of drunken morons, say, urinating in the back yard.
We need to protect what’s ours.
SantaCon will try to play the victim. The organisers hired a civil rights lawyer to defend and protect the festival, the same way protestors hire lawyers to protect them from police brutality. This is an insult.
It is not your civil right to have sex in a dumpster in broad daylight. It is not your civil right to get in a 20-person brawl outside a diner where families are eating.
It is not your right to get a hand job in a Duane Reade, and then pretend to be a lawyer so you can (with some pretend shred of credibility) demand that sites like Gawker take down a story about it so that you are not publicly shamed. You should be publicly shamed. You should also stay home on Saturday.
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 of sweets. They become the biggest, jerkiest frat star on the planet on the eve of pledge night. 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 was 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 causes people to light 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. We obviously can’t handle it.