If you're downtown Dec. 14 and see hundreds of Santas walking around with drinks in hand, don't shake your head in disbelief - it's just the return of SantaCon.
The annual event takes place Dec. 14 in downtown Savannah, and event organizers will post Santa's secret list and map two days before the event on the Facebook event page for Savannah SantaCon 2013. While the event is billed as a festive pub crawl for adults dressed in Santa garb, it is also a toy drive, and every Santa is asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy worth at least $10 in value.
Head Santa, Santa Mike, took a break from his naughty/nice list to do something he says Santas aren't supposed to do - talk to the press.
What is your full name and position with SantaCon?
My name is Santa Mike, and I am the lead Santa based here in Savannah. The big Santa up North has hundreds of designees assigned to every city.
Savannah also has a network of Santas who help with various crawl planning tasks, and some Santas are secretly embedded in the bars and restaurants, but you will only know during SantaCon - they'll be dressed as Santa. Santa is to be referred to as Santa.
What can guests expect to do at SantaCon?
SantaCon activities include a pub crawl consisting of about eight establishments. We travel as a group on the hour because it's more fun. We never leave a Santa behind. Santa has to spend 24 hours by himself on Dec. 25, so he needs some social time.
Depending on the establishment, there will be different activities at each bar. This year Bad Santa and the Angry Elves, a rock band, will be performing punk Christmas carols at Pour Larry's.
There will be a costume contest. And Santa may not have a good voice, but he loves singing karaoke at Bay Street Blues.
What is the purpose behind SantaCon? How did this event begin/evolve?
SantaCon is a worldwide event held in over 40 countries and over 300 cities. An adult event, it's a roving band of fun-loving holiday characters, hundreds deep, spreading holiday - it doesn't matter which - cheer. Participants will be dressed - this is essential and mandatory - as various holiday characters and of course, Santa.
Whether you love or hate Christmas, when you attend SantaCon, you are spreading goodwill and holiday cheer. It's the only fun holiday party.
Everyone is expected to bring an unwrapped toy to donate, right?
Everyone is asked to bring at least one new, unopened, unwrapped present worth at least $10, but more is good.
Do you know what organization you will donate the toys to?
SantaCon is a free event and is different in every city across the nation. Some have no charity, but Savannah SantaCon adopted Toys for Tots as a charity last year.
Toys are given to the 2nd Beach Terminal Operations unit on Hunter Army Airfield for distribution. Unlike other charity pub crawls, where organizers take a portion of profits, this Santa isn't skimming any presents.
In addition, each participating bar will offer specials on food and drinks. The event page also has listed discounted costumes and hotel rates for Santa.
How many years have folks in Savannah participated in SantaCon?
This will be Savannah's fourth SantaCon. In 2008, I participated in Philadelphia SantaCon. While having a cold glass of milk and cookies with Santa and some elves, it dawned on me - why does the gregarious, fun-loving Hostess City not have a SantaCon?
How many people do you expect this year?
It took a year to be able to acclimate to the heat of the South, but finally in 2010, 115 Santas came out for the first crawl. Last year, our total grew to almost 250 Santas throughout the day, and we expect the same for 2013.
Any last words?
Santas do not have to drink. It is a matter of personal preference. Santa is asked to be merry and responsible. All Santas are asked to be responsible and have prearranged plans to get home to include hotels and cabs.