It all started in a country far, far away: the land of free, the brave and some strange version of Rugby.
The first “SantaCon” took place in San Francisco in 1994 and was sponsored by The San Francisco Cacophony Society. The original inspiration came from an earlier SF adventure club called The Suicide Club. The Founder and Avatar of The Suicide Club, Gary Warne decided to organize a non-political, purely surreal Santa prank event after reading a Mother Jones article about a Danish political group dressing as Santas and mobbing a Copenhagen department store just before Christmas.
The first SantaCon consisted of a single bus-load of Santas and did not involve much drinking at all. The Santas took a Cable Car up Nob Hill, hit a few hotels and then descend into Union Square where, after making a pass thru Macy’s, they “hanged” a Santa (wearing a body harness) in front of The Saint Francis Hotel around midnight.
The second SantaCon got a bit more out of control, with some 100 Santas joining in the fun. This group started at the ice skating rink at Embarcadero and Market and immediately got into a snowball fight (the zamboni scrapings from the rink leave a huge pile of soft slush side the rink) with a bunch of 10 year olds, culminating in the Santas chasing the kids across and out of the park, to the amused concern of their parents. Unfortunately, this was just a prelude of more bad Santa behavior to come, as the drunken mob of Santas reveled in the City. Read the San Francisco Police report here.
Afterward, the orginal SantaCon organizers were determined never to do it again! But then the Portland Cacophony Society decided that they would do a SantaCon. Click here to view the Portland Police report. Now, almost twenty full years later, the phenomenon has spread to 281 cities in over 40 countries!
For more information on the history of SantaCon (and Santarchy), and a fabulous archive of historical SantaCon photos and videos, go to www.santarchy.com.
SantaCon’s First Prank: Hanging Christmas Decorations