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SantaCon 2006 Sunday, December 10, 2006

(left) Josh Gardner was one of dozens of Santas who participated in SantaCon 2006 in Portland, Ore. On Dec. 9, more than 100 Claus's barhopped their way around the city for no particular reason.

Last Saturday, down by Skidmore Fountain, a pair people in Santa Claus suits walked across my path. Not too surprising at this time of year.

It could have been a coincidence when I saw another Kris Kringle's giving candy canes to a kid at the nearby MAX station just a few minutes later.

But when
a procession of more than a dozen St. Nick's wound its way through the narrow spaces between the stalls at Portland's Saturday Market, I knew something was up.

Camera in hand, I followed the quickly growing group of Santas a couple of blocks to McFadden's Saloon and started asking questions.
It turns out I had stumbled across Portland's edition of SantaCon.

(right) Dozens of Santa Claus's file into McFadden's Saloon in downtown Portland shortly after noon on Dec. 9.

It's hard to get information about SantaCon. I asked one Santa who was carrying a megaphone and appeared to be directing the group whether he was organizing the event.

"I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of Santa Claus," was the reply. It was in keeping with the spirit, if not the letter, of the script that participants are given:

Who's in charge? SANTA
Who are you with? SANTA
What organization are you with? SANTA
Who organized this? SANTA
Where did you get the buses? SANTA
Who's that woman? SANTA
Who's that guy? SANTA
How did you get here? A sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

According to an article about last year's event in the Portland Tribune, SantaCon started in San Francisco in 1994, and migrated to Portland in 1996. Thirty-seven cities in the United States, Canada, and even England, Japan and Germany will have events this December. Chicago and Portland each have two separate dates.

There doesn't seem to be any particular purpose for the gathering, other than giving people a weird opportunity to drink, cause a little mayhem, and spread cheer. In Portland it is coordinated, if not organized, by the Portland Cacaphony Society, who describe themselves as "
a randomly gathered network of free-spirits seeking new adventures beyond the pale of mainstream society," and "a bunch of good-for-nothing psychic cowboys."

SantaCon comes to Toronto and Ottawa (and other locations) on Dec. 16. In Portland, SantaCon II is Dec. 23.

(above) Santa, left, greets Santa as Santa, Santa, Santa and Santa file into McFadden's Saloon in Portland on Saturday afternoon.


Matthew said...

Some unconfirmed estimates put the number between 400 and 500 participants.

Anonymous said...

I personally counted 425 at the World Trade Center walkthrough, Santa Nopants counted another 50 that came by immediately after my count. At Riverplace, my phone was ringing every 5-10 minutes. That puts us at 475 confirmed and over 500 as an estimate.