Red-suited revelers took to the streets of Flatiron, Midtown and the East Village in search of their next libation at the annual holiday bar-crawl known as SantaCon on Saturday.
Clad in Santa outfits and holiday-themed costumes, they lined up outside bars, waiting to get in. Some revelers wore reindeer onesies, elf costumes or other Christmas-themed apparel, including a gingerbread man.
“It’s fun as hell to be drunk in a Santa outfit,” said Neal Jhaveri, 23, of Roslyn.
Jhaveri, who by 12:30 p.m. had already had seven drinks, including several Jägerbombs and cranberry vodkas, said he was enjoying his first SantaCon.
“I love it already,” Jhaveri said. “If you walk down the street and you say ‘ho ho ho,’ you get like 10 ‘ho ho ho’s’ back.”
SantaCon organizers promised to try to curtail the drunken and disorderly behavior that has become a staple of the event. They tweeted warnings to revelers urging them to drink water and eat lunch because “SantaCon was a marathon NOT a sprint.”
Officials with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office also sent out a playful warning, reminding revelers that the NYPD will be out in their “sleigh.”
The festivities began as thousands gathered near the Flatiron building about 10 a.m. before fanning out in search of spirits and merriment.
Long lines formed outside bars and clubs that had agreed to host the SantaCon revelers. NYPD officers were stationed outside each pub and had metal barricades ready to pen in crowds.
“It’s like another Halloween, except everyone is wearing basically the same thing,” said Niko Wong, 24, of Orange County, who purchased a full Santa suit from a costume shop.
“It’s just a bunch of people going out having a good time,” said Wong, who had drunk seven light beers before 1 p.m. “I’m just trying to maintain a little buzz. It’s not fun if you get blackout drunk. Then you can’t socialize.”
Ashley Thompson, 28, rode the Long Island Rail Road from Riverhead to the event, wearing a tight red dress and Santa hat.
“This is my first year doing it. It’s very cool,” Thompson said. “As a child you hear all about Santa and elves. This is the holiday season, just the adult version.”
Nicholas VanderBorgh, 41, who has lived in the East Village for the past 16 years, roamed the streets in an abominable snowman outfit from the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” cartoon.
“I just like to make people happy,” VanderBorgh said. “So many people have just come up to me and given me a big hug.”
As night fell, clumps of Santas congregated at street corners to plot their next bar visit while others wobbled aimlessly through the streets. Some struggled to find a restroom. Others paired off and locked lips in the middle of busy streets.
Amy Madalinski, 28, of Bushwick, Brooklyn, was looking for love in a sea of Santas.
“There’s a lot of hot guys in Santa suits,” Madalinski said.
Madalinski, who said this was her first time roaming the streets in the Santa-themed festivities, had a few criticisms.
“The lines are too long and not enough intoxication,” she said.