BY HELAINA N. HOVITZ | Nothing says Christmas in Lower Manhattan like thousands of “Santas” urinating, screaming, vomiting, breaking beer bottles and screaming at little children in the streets.
Thanks to Santa Con, a Christmas-themed pub-crawl through New York City, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have officially confused Christmas “spirit” with “spirits.”
Does anyone remember the opening scene from “Miracle on 34th Street?” The first Santa in the parade was fired because he was drinking. “You’re a disgrace!” the “real” Santa tells the drunk. But the “real” Santa was nowhere to be found among the massive crowds of drunken imposters stumbling around downtown last Saturday, and the mayhem that began as early as 10 a.m. can only be described as one big “Calamity on Fulton Street.”
Binge drinkers looking for another amateur’s night out — only worse, they’re drinking, publicly, in broad daylight — flanked the World Financial Center, swarmed the South Street Seaport, and climbed the rocks of DeLury Square Park.
What was fun for them was not fun for all.
Lower Manhattan smelled like one big brewery thanks to those sauntering around waving bottles and drinking from clear, plastic cups full of beer. Last time I checked, this was illegal. Where the heck were all the police? At least 75 were congregated in one big mass, standing on the corner of Water Street chatting. If any of them had bothered to move even a single block in any given direction, they could have nabbed some of the fools falling into seniors and children just trying to get by.
While dodging elves screaming profanities and belligerent reindeer running amuck, one little boy asked his father, “Daddy, why are Santa and the reindeer acting like that?”
Another little girl hid underneath her mother’s coat as others ran away, repeatedly looking back over their shoulders as the belligerent crowds gained momentum.
Understandably, the enchantment and wonder of the holiday is hopelessly lost when Christmas carols are sung by a bunch of drunks shouting the words as though preparing to charge into battle — think Gerard Butler shouting “This Is Sparta!” in the movie “300.”
What happens to the magic of Christmas when children are fleeing from intoxicated hoards of Kris Kringles? And what kind of example is this setting?
Maybe they should have marched over to a children’s hospital or a homeless shelter to help create magical memories for children instead of traumatizing them.
On his way to Squires Diner for his morning coffee, my neighbor Mike rubbed his eyes in confusion. “At first I thought they were the Christmas carolers from the Seaport,” he said. “But then I saw an elf spanking a Santa in a mini skirt.”
When I was little, we only had one Santa Claus at the seaport, a retired stage actor still there to this day. He looked exactly like the real Santa and gave out candy canes. At no point did he spank anyone, naughty or nice.
We don’t need another bar-crawling holiday like St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, plenty of people create many of their own “non-occasions,” as an excuse to get drunk in public, but usually they congregate in places known for nightlife — the key word being “night.” But college students from the neighborhood NYU and Pace dormitories were so sloshed by 2 p.m. that many couldn’t even answer simple questions.
One young man dressed as Jack the Pumpkin King could not have depicted a Nightmare Before Christmas any better.
The command, “Don’t take my name,” indicated that there was enough self-awareness to cause some semblance of embarrassment.
“Wait a second,” a slutty elf chimed in as I took notes on my iPhone. “You’re clearly not a recorder,” she slurred suspiciously, raising her voice.
“She said she’s a recorder, but she’s not.”
“Reporter,” I clarified. “I’m a reporter.”
After letting the realization marinate, she huffed her reply.
“That’s not a Christmas character!”
A Twitter feed told everyone where to go, and even the few well behaved, good-natured groups that kept to themselves admitted that the only destinations tweeted were various bars throughout the city.
“It’s an excuse to get drunk early in the day, like St. Patrick’s Day, but in winter,” said a modestly dressed Santa flagged by his college classmates.
Frankly, I don’t think some of the local proprietors even want the Santas rolling through and causing chaos. It’s not worth the money. In fact, some Downtown pubs closed early, just like on St. Patrick’s Day, because the mess and the bad behavior aren’t worth the extra business.
“Yeah, I’ve got a [insert expletive] mop on my head,” a drunk Santa randomly shouted at a group of innocent 15-year-old elves trying to lunch at the Nassau Street Diner. “I’m a New York City Santa! That’s what this is!”
Unfortunately for all New Yorkers, the fiasco didn’t just take place Downtown — it was citywide. Worse still, this isn’t just a NYC event. It was, and still is, taking place across the country. In fact, cities around the world will be jumping on the pub-hopping polar express next weekend, from Dublin to Beijing. Places like Denver are doing their Santa Con on Christmas Eve. Lets see how merry they feel the morning.