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SantaCon NYC: full of good cheer? Or just full of beer?

Allison Joyce / Getty Images

Revelers dressed as Santa Claus sing near Battery Park during the annual SantaCon event in New York City on Dec. 10.

Thousands of revelers dressed as Santa Claus took to the streets of New York City for the annual SantaCon festival on Saturday. While the event is a charity benefit, it's also a pub crawl. Beginning at 10 a.m. in Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Park, seas of Santas marauded around the city for up to 12 hours of revelry.

SantaCon was started in San Francisco in 1994 by the “Suicide Club,” a group dedicated to urban adventure and pranks. It has since spread to 227 cities in 32 countries around the world. Dozens of these gatherings are yet to come this season.

Some say the event is supposed to be a large gathering of people dressed as Santa Claus, parading around in the name of spontaneity and creativity while spreading cheer and goodwill. Others claim it's a non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and non-sensical convention that occurs for no reason.

Allison Joyce / Getty Images

Revelers dressed as Santa Claus drink outside at a bar during the annual SantaCon event on Saturday, Dec. 10 in New York City.

While the focus projected by organizers may vary, of the thousands who turned out in costume, quite a few were belligerent, wasted, or simply out-of-control. At one point an intoxicated, misbehaving Santa took a woman's purse.

Curious about this year's event, I attended SantaCon. Not wanting to own or rent a Santa Claus outfit, I dressed up as a toy soldier with parts cobbled together from a military surplus store. The costume was a hit, as a group of new and old friends traversed the city in amusement and occasional horror as we witnessed the full spectrum of costumes and revelry.

Point being, there's plenty of room to enjoy this festival without being so wholly focused on alcohol. When consumed copiously from 10a.m. to 10p.m., it's no wonder non-participating New Yorkers (and their children) see Santa doing things that tarnish his name blacker than the inside of a chimney.

Kena Betancur / Reuters

Thousand of people dressed in Santa Claus costumes gather in Times Square during the annual SantaCon celebration in New York on Dec. 10.

Those sentiments and the "how was your weekend" banter in our newsroom at 30 Rock spawned a strongly negative conversation about the antics of revelers that I wish I could say surprised me. But the fact is, New Yorkers (especially Gothamist) are ready to see the raucous reindeer, sloppy St. Nicholas and plastered presents take it down a notch.

Related holiday cheer:
Faces of Santa from far and wide
Awkward holiday photos
Slideshow: Festive seasonal displays around the globe
Christmas at the White House

Bryan Smith / Zuma

A reveler dressed as a gift crashes to the street outside bars on Stone Street as people in Santa Claus costumes watch.