Here Comes SantaCon or Here Comes Santa Claus (and another and another)
by Doug Rapp
If you see dozens of Santas gathered around the Bean sometime on Dec. 7, don’t worry, he hasn’t been cloned—it’s all part of SantaCon.
The annual holiday convention of Santas occurs nationwide around the holidays when groups of Santa-clad revelers gather, often for a pub crawl. For Chicago, SantaCon will commence the first Saturday in December at noon at the Tavern Tap Pub at the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Ave.
“I believe this event to be an outlet for people that like to dress up, drink and spread the holiday spirit,” said one of the co-organizers, who asked to be identified only as Santa Joe. “I personally love the flash mob aspect of SantaCon. The look on kid’s and people’s faces as we stroll down Michigan Avenue in Santa Suits is priceless.”
When pressed for more information, Santa Joe replied, “Ambiguity is the key. We are all just Santa.”
Santa Joe said they usually have from 200-500 Santas attend throughout the day. This year, after starting at the Tavern Tap, they plan to stop by the Art Institute for some caroling, surround the Bean from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m., while hitting other bars such as 2twenty2, The Joy District, Clover Sports and Leisure, and the Sleigh Baby Winter pop-up bar.
SantaCon began in the 1990s in San Franciso and, as of 2017, was in nearly 400 cities worldwide, according to their official website, Santacon.info.
“Santa Tom started the [Chicago] event in 2005, which he had participated in while he lived in New York years previous,” Santa Joe said. “In 2006, I heard about the event on the radio station Q101. Starting attending, never missing a year. After a few years, myself and my buddy Ryan took over and we’ve been running it ever since.”
The aforementioned buddy, Santa Ryan, identified himself as Ryan Laswell, a Chicago native who commutes downtown for work.
“It’s become a tradition between me and my friends,” Laswell said. “We’re able to go out and have a good time while bringing smiles to children and adults faces. For me it has become part of Christmas. Similar to opening up gifts on Christmas day as a child. Now as an adult I get to go out and celebrate in the city drinking, spreading cheer and creating memories.”Anyone over 21 wishing to join in the fun needs a Santa- or Christmas-themed suit—a Santa hat alone won’t cut it. Register online at https://www.originalchicagosantacon.com/. Donations are accepted as well.