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New Yorkers have a certain tolerance for the drunken revelry of visitors and citizens alike. Think St. Patrick's Day awash in green beer or Manhattan's Puerto Rican Day Parade. However, Santacon presents its own unique set of challenges. With the possible exception of the Grinch, nobody wants to see Santa facing a drinking and driving charge right before Christmas.

For the last 16 years, each December an unruly contingent of tens of thousands of people clad as Santa-wear, elves, reindeer or in other holiday garb descend upon the city on their annual day-long pub crawl. Armed with plenty of booze and very few rules (no means no, don't make the kiddies cry and stay in costume), New Yorkers are alternately disgusted or welcoming at this most unusual display of holiday spirit. Some Lower East Side bars posted signs warning the Santacon participants that their presence wasn't wanted in their establishments, but others welcomed the drunken St. Nicks and pledged a portion of the day's profits to the charity Toys for Tots. Last year's proceeds totaled $45,000, which can buy a lot of toys for the city's underprivileged youths.

The loosely-organized group without an official leader agreed this year for the first time to share their route ahead of time with police authorities and to provide sober elves who will gently guide wandering, inebriated Santas back to their established route. Police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly even voiced his support of the group, citing it as one of the things that makes New York City unique.

Grinches still abound, however. Many of the local transit authorities banned all alcohol consumption on their trains for a 24-hour period when the Santas will be out in force.

Should Santa find himself in a bind for drinking and driving and wind up behind bars with his sleigh impounded, don't be so quick to cancel Christmas. Consulting with an experienced lawyer who can arrange bail and represent Mr. Claus in court to defend his reputation and driving (flying?) record is definitely in his best interest.

Source: nytimes.com, "Naughty or Nice? Not Everyone Is Jolly About SantaCon Coming to Town" Marc Santora, Dec. 13, 2013

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