So how has it come that I have never been to SantaCon? You see, every year Santacon occurs about 2 weeks before Christmas. And you know what else happens every year 2 weeks before Christmas? Weebly's epic Christmas party, which started as a house party in 2007 and has grown into mythical proportions, this year taking over the Fillmore. Every year for 6 years, the Weebly party has taken place the night before SantaCon. Which means every year for 6 years, I have been recovering during SantaCon. But alas! Not this year - this year the Weebly party took place one weekend earlier, leaving me no excuse to miss it.
For those of you living under a rock, SantaCon is essentially a city-wide bar crawl where participants dress up in their favorite festive clothing - I'm not talking just wear red or green, or a Santa hat - I mean dress up head to toe as Santa (or usually slutty Santa - ahem, "Mrs. Claus" if you're a girl) or an elf or a reindeer - you get the idea. There is no cost to participate, although you are encouraged to bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots. In NYC, SantaCon has recently gotten a bad rap for their revelers getting out of hand and becoming a menace to the city (bah humbug, New York). Fortunately, San Franciscans are generally pretty mild-mannered and so far there have not been too many complaints locally.
The usual plan is to meet in Union Square for a very merry Santa rendezvous, then head out to one of the bar crawl routes, most of which are based in some of the more popular neighborhoods - The Mission, North Beach, SoMa - etc. Being that I was already feeling pretty old and lazy this year, my 30th (it's all downhill from here, folks), I was pretty sure I wouldn't be making it to Union Square - getting up and dressed by 11 was hard enough. Thankfully Sarah had a friend who was hosting a "more the merrier" (see what I did there?) pre-SantaCon brunch at her place in Russian Hill, not terribly far from where I live. Rather than hoof it over to Union Square, we could pre-party over brunch before heading out to the Polk Street bars. My adorable entourage that day consisted of Sarah, Melissa, Lindsey, and Kim.
Sarah's friend Alex really outdid herself with brunch. I host a lot of events, and I was both impressed and humbled by (and yes, a little jealous of) her spread: bacon, bagels, enchiladas, cinnamon rolls, eggs Benedict casserole, chips, dips, red and green popcorn and cupcakes - the menu went on and on. It was a great way to fill ourselves up before a long day of holiday drinking.
Thankfully Advil PM does not usually affect me, so although it made me a little anxious, I decided to just see how it went - get a few vodka Red Bulls in me and I should be fine. We headed back out and made our way down Polk to McTeague's, a major stopping point on this particular SantaCon route. Lindsey and I brought beers, knowing that SFPD is pretty lax about open bottles as long as you're not being obvious or obnoxious. We did make an effort to conceal them, however, as you can see in the photo to the right.
One more thing was surprising when we walked outside - the sheer number of SantaCon revelers. It seemed that all of Polk Street had been taken over by the festivities. Santas were pouring out of bars, waiting in lines, and sometimes stopping traffic. I'm positive that if you were not participating in SantaCon, this would have been incredibly annoying - but I must admit, as a participant myself, the scene was wonderful. Watching what feels like an entire city participate in something so fun and silly is really quite awe-inspiring. Every scantily-clad Santa strengthened my love for this place more and more.
The verdict: SantaCon was super fun. It takes a large commitment of not drinking the day before, waking up early to dress up, drinking all day, and potentially being out of commission all night, so if the Weebly party coincides with it going forward, this may have been my first and last SantaCon. But if I find myself with another free weekend during SantaCon, I would definitely go again. What else am I going to do with a scandalous Santa costume?