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Barhopping Santas: SantaCon Celebrates Christmas, Portland Style

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Barhopping Santas: SantaCon Celebrates Christmas, Portland Style

SantaCon Portland

©Steve Rhodes
Updated December 10, 2012

For those tired of traditional holiday seasons, and who may believe that Santa should mix a little naughty in with the nice, SantaCon may be just the ticket. The traditionally headless, somewhat disorganized pub crawl of rambunctious Santas has elements of a flash mob and spreads an off-kilter version of the Christmas spirit with altered carols performed for the public and often odd gifts for strangers along the way. Needless to say, the farther the pub crawl progresses, the more rowdy the entourage becomes.

The event known as SantaCon began in San Francisco under the anti-organization, the Cacophony Society (whose early members also founded what became Burning Man). However mass (often drunken) Santa outings date back to at least 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and to 1978 in the U.S., according to Wikipedia.

This year there are no fewer than four SantaCon-style get togethers. Two have already happened (the NoPDXAnticon in North Portland and the semi-official SantaCon), but two more are still coming up -- plenty of opportunity for you to dust off that Santa suit.

  • The Stumptown Crawlers' rendition of SantaCon unfolds on December 15th and, although the event is free to attend, the promoters do fundraise to benefit a local charity every year. Visit the Stumptown Crawlers website for info about the group, or check out the Stumptown Crawlers SantaCon event page on Facebook.
  • The Santacan Crawl unfolds on December 22nd. A quote from the event's Facebook page reveals the chaos inherent to these outings: "There is no head Santa -- all Santas are in charge. So follow the map and times, or don't and lead the way." Learn more about Santacan Crawl on the group's Facebook page and event listing.

Maybe those dates don't work for you? Despair not, and unfurl your own progressive party. As the Portland Cacophony Society is fond of trumpeting, "You may already be a member." Figure out a route and publicize as you see fit.

When I first encountered a gaggle of drunken Santas ambling between bars on an urban street shortly after I moved to town, it seemed quintessentially Portland and epitomized the spirit of my adopted home to me. Although I've yet to partake myself, I'm glad to know they're out there, doing Santa's work. Check out one of these events, and if you do, be sure to send pictures!

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