The day after SantaCon, the controversial holiday-themed bar crawl, took over parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, organizers said they hope the relative calm is a sign of years to come. Skeptics, however, were mixed on whether enough was done to temper the raucous festivities.
Thousands of revelers showed up for the Saturday event, which started off in McCarren Park and included 38 official bars over 10 hours. The event, which several politicians voiced concern over regarding its past reputation for drunken antics, was relatively peaceful.
"What I'm hoping is that the 2014 and yesterday's SantaCon replaced some of the past negative aspects with more positive aspects and a different public attitude toward SantaCon in the future," said civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who represents the organizers. "I'm hoping the future for SantaCon, assuming there is one, will continue to be more positive, more charitable giving. And maybe some of those elected officials will have to rethink it."
There were five SantaCon related arrests, police said, including one in which an EMS worker was charged with throwing a glass mug at a bartender at about 9:15 p.m. inside The Village Pourhouse, one of the stops on the route.
Giannella Robalina, 30, was charged with second-degree assault and was awaiting arraignment Sunday.In addition, three people were arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance and one was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who led an effort of several local leaders expressing concern over the festivities, said Saturday's events were better than the past, but not perfect.
"We need more planning in connection with SantaCon because of the tremendous number of people who it brings to our neighborhoods. There was a greater sense of where they were going to be," he said. "I'd like the organizers to take responsibility, sit down with community boards and local elected officials and plan this better. I don't want to be a grinch about it, it's a matter of planning."
But the relative calm of the unseasonably warm day was enough to reassure Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who co-signed Hoylman's letter. "I thought it was very calm, I didn't see any problems at all," Brewer said. "I think what we'll say is congratulations to the SantaCon committee. And as long as it continues in this positive direction it's a good thing."
Siegel said the group tried to self-police, addressing issues before they became a larger problem and begging participants to follow the law.
"Throughout the day there were texts. Every 30 minutes there were all these messages telling people 'don't be naughty, don't do this, don't do that,'" he said. "There were constant reminders when people were gathering: don't screw it up for all SantaCons."
In addition to the bar crawl, SantaCon raised money for several charities, including City Harvest, by charging participants $10 to access certain venues.