SARATOGA SPRINGS – Enjoy the holiday spirit, and spirits, with the 4th annual SantaCon Saratoga Springs on Saturday, December 19.
Attendees dress up head to toe as Santa Claus (Mrs. Clauses, elves, reindeer and other holiday characters are also welcome) and spread holiday cheer and charity throughout Saratoga as they visit local bars and restaurants. In order to get a wristband for the bars’ SantaCon specials, attendees must bring a minimum of four non-perishable food items to donate to Franklin Community Center.
“According to SantaCon rules, every time you call it a pub crawl, a sugarplum fairy dies,” said Anthony Aquino, one of the founders of Saratoga’s SantaCon. “It’s all about the donations.”
Aquino, along with his friend Michelle Nochisaki, founded their very own SantaCon in Saratoga four years ago. The two friends used to go to New York City’s SantaCon, but after being unable to attend one year, they decided to create their own SantaCon close to home. SantaCon is a worldwide event and according to its website, there are currently SantaCons in over 356 cities and 49 countries.
SantaCon Saratoga is growing. 300 people attended the first SantaCon Saratoga in 2012, while last year, over 700 people attended. This year, Saratoga Eagle sponsored radio advertisements, raffle prizes and even a van to haul the huge amount of donated food.
“Every year, I’m worried that my tires on my truck are going to pop because there’s so much food!” said Aquino. He also mentions how some people just stop by to donate, without even going to the bars. “People bring food not to win a prize or the raffle, but because they want to be a part of something. By the end of the night, there’s just food all around.”
Julia Slovic, Food Program Administrator at Franklin Community Center, explains how SantaCon greatly helps their food pantry during the holiday season. “We have been fortunate enough to be the recipient of Saratoga SantaCon's food drive for the past two years and we couldn't be happier about it,” she said, “The amount of food collected throughout the event is overwhelming and helps keep our shelves stocked through the ever busy winter months. We truly appreciate that the event organizers were so forward thinking to include a charitable component to their fun filled day.”
There will be a big van outside of Putnam Den, where SantaCon begins on Saturday, so that arriving Santa Clauses can make their donations and receive their wristband. Raffle tickets are given out based on donations, so the more food brought, the more raffle tickets attendees will receive. Last year’s raffle prizes included ski passes for six at Killington, a snowboard, a two night stay in the Bud Light Condo, and more.
While many SantaCons have been getting a bad reputation for their wild crowds, SantaCon Saratoga does things differently.
“We’ve had such a positive turnout, with zero issues of anyone getting too drunk. Everyone is just in a great mood all day,” said Aquino. “What makes this event special though is giving back to the community. Seeing the community come and hang out altogether makes it worth it.”
Thinking about attending SantaCon without a costume? If so, expect to stand out.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an event where people get so involved in getting dressed up and playing a part,” Aquino added.
Participating Bars and Schedule:
Putnam Den – 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Spa City Tap & Barrel – 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Harvey’s – 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Peabody’s/Bailey’s – 4:15 P.M. to 5:15 p.m.
Clancy’s/Dango’s/Trotters – 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saratoga City Tavern – 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Caroline St. Pub – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Bourbon Room – All day specials.
For more information about SantaCon Saratoga, and to see more great pictures from previous years, visit facebook.com/saratoga.santa.