"Hey you know what my friend told me about?" began the ringleader. "New York city has an event every year called SantaCon. He goes every year. And Boston has one too - it's coming up in December."
The table ringed with raised eyebrows asked the obvious question - "Uh... SantaCon?" we quizzed.
"Yeah, a bunch of people dress up as Santa and go on a pub crawl around Boston. It starts at noon and goes until they shut the town down. You want to go?"
And so it began. Five of the guys teamed up to get Santa costumes wholesale on the internet, patting themselves on the back for scoring full, red-velvet-black-boots-white-fur, quantity-discount ensembles for $25 a piece. I didn't go that year (2007), but epic stories from that SantaCon lasted all the way to the next summer.
When 2008 rolled around, you bet I was in. And of COURSE the guys were in again. They had already bought the costumes, it would be a shame not to get a second wear out of them! I didn't have a costume, but I figured a red shirt and black dress with boots and a belt ought to at least get me Santa's helper status. I was designated photographer, so I present to you the SantaCon 2008 group of guys:
The pub crawl starts at noon, where I insisted that we have lunch. Woman needs a burger at noon, not a beer... or so I feel, at least.
The best part about any social event is the people you share it with. The guys in these photos are all characters in their own right, and life will be an adventure whenever they get together. You may recognize Eehern, my travel buddy to Chicago. After the seventh double-take from random passers-by, Eehern just shrugged and said, "Well that's what I get for being an Asian Santa!"
The other fun part of this event is seeing all the OTHER Santas. There were several hundred, and when we "crawled" between bars, the procession was quite a sight.
We met the organizer of the Boston SantaCon:
And stopped to take a picture in front of Boston City Hall:
We ended the night by taking a non-scheduled stop at Border Cafe. It was well past dinner time, and I felt that food was needed instead of more beer. Can you tell I don't operate well when I'm hungry? :) When the restaurant owners saw us walk in, they insisted that we meet a large party in the downstairs. The guys played Santa for the laughing and delighted patrons, and we all got free appetizers!
In 2009, after enduring two years of stories from SantaCon, more labmates were convinced to join. This year I borrowed a legitimate costume from a friend.
Cute, right? Well it looked cute when I was among the hundreds of other Santas, but you do get some funny looks as you travel around town. It's particularly disconcerting for people to see Santa on the T... (in Boston, the subway is known as the "T.")
We again started with lunch. Lunch is always a good idea.
There were still characters to keep the day interesting. :)
And "Asian Santa" reprised his appearance for the third year in a row!
The bars were again packed with Santas, throwing off the poor regular patrons just looking for a quiet Saturday out and about.
Random people would come up and stop us on the street, asking to take a picture. We thought it was funny for the first two, or three, or five... but by the tenth person that asked us to take a picture, we got a little tired of it! But when kids came up to talk, we always played the part. Nothing like making a kid's face light up!
This year it wasn't snowing (thank goodness), so the picture in front of City Hall was much more pleasant.
And, to keep to tradition, we again ended the night with late dinner at Border Cafe. Chips and queso for the win.
This year was the third year I've done SantaCon, and the fourth year my lab has done it.
The group of my friends that goes keeps getting bigger every year! Some students have graduated, so we don't have the same people, and unfortunately not as many Santa suits this year. But at least we were all wearing hats, that counts right?
The bars were always packed. This year the event was so big, that the Santas had to spread out among four or five bars at once just to hold everybody. The more the merrier!
There will always be chartacters. Life is no fun without characters. :)
Wrapping up SantaCon 2010 in Harvard Square.
I think now that my lab has done this four years in a row, it's safe to say it's an established tradition. I've enjoyed going, and it really is a bonding and morale-building experience for us as labmates. Of course, we talk about research...... right? Yeah, not so much. :)
And this year, we even made the news!
I'm the girl in the bright red dress.
Cheers to SantaCon, and to social events with friends!