2008 LA SantaCon: When Many Santas Need a Drink

SantaCon happens once a year in cities all around the world with Santas coming out in all manner of Santa Claus dress and celebrating the holidays in their own way...usually with a crazy-long barhop. This year's L.A. SantaCon kicked off on Saturday at Echo Park. It started at 1pm and promised to run through 2am. The Santas were going to tie one on in a major way: 11 hours of drinking and many stops. Since I'm a wussy Santa, I only stayed through the first two stops. Hey, the sleighs got a late start and I had places to be.

At the park, we had to wait about 45 minutes for "straggler Santas" before our sleighs would take off. No Santas left behind! The Santas kept themselves occupied at the park by taking pictures of the unusual Kris Kringle versions, singing songs from the SantaCon songbook and "fortifying" for our long journey with drink, food and "other forms of recreation."

Finally when it was time, we piled onto the five school buses. Unfortunately 80 degrees on an unusually warm December afternoon and Santa suits do not mix. This Santa was glad to have scored a seat next to an open window.

First stop was 4100 Bar with a pit stop beforehand at the liquor store where all the Santas met up with the Santas on bikes. The poor store owner asked the organizer Santa to only let a certain amount of Kringles into his store at a time while the rest of the merry mob waited in the parking lot.

Armed with a bottle of water, I joined the other Santas on the stroll to 4100 Bar. Passing motorists on Sunset honked their horns, cheering us on. It felt good being part of a red sea of Santas. We brought joy to everyone who crossed our path. Kids seemed bewildered while their parents enjoyed the humorous visual, recording it on their cell phones.

At 4100 Bar, we filled up the empty bar with good tidings of comfort and joy and drink requests. Unfortunately my cocktail of whiskey and ginger was rather weak. But my flask of Maker's made it all better.

One Santa proceeded to chat me up as I waited for my friend Santa to come back from the restroom. Yes, every Santa referred to him/herself as "Santa." Confusing? No. Hilarious? Yes.

After a couple of cocktails, it was time to move onto our next destination: El Cid down the street. While some stayed behind at 4100 and took their time with their drinking, most left. It was OK, we kept track of each other through Twitter and group text messaging.

El Cid wasn't as easy to get into. All the Santas had packed into its courtyard and the doorman wouldn't let any more of us in. So we waited. Finally, it was realized that the Santas should be redirected into a reserved room inside the restaurant. But at this point, it was time for me to call it a night.

When I finally got home, I could still follow SantaCon's route on the group text messaging. Apparently they continued on to uWink at Hollywood and Highland, Powerhouse, Boardners, Jumbo's Clown Room and The Echo for the afterparty and holiday mash party. The next morning Santas were invited to meet up again for a late post-SantaCon brunch at Canter's. Too bad by then I had already de-Claused myself.

If you only do one barhop a year, I suggest you do it up right with SantaCon. It's a great way to get your jollies during the holiday season.