SantaCon braves streets of the Couv

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



You better watch out … Santa clones are comin' to town.

At least 100 people are planning to don the costume of the fat jolly one and participate in Clark County's first SantaCon, to be held Saturday in downtown Vancouver.

If you go

• What: SantaCon Vancouver Washington.

• When: 3 p.m. until the bars close, Saturday. Starts at Mt. Tabor Brewing, 113 W. Ninth St.; 7 p.m. group photo at Kiggins Theatre, 1011 Main St.

• Cost: Free, but donations of socks for charities requested. Drop-off spots at Mt. Tabor and other merchant locations.

• Information: The SantaCon website or its Facebook page.

The worldwide event, in which throngs of people dress as Santa and flood eateries, pubs and businesses, is free — you don't even need to sign up — and is always looking for more participants, said Brett Allred, who is spearheading the Vancouver effort.

"Most towns, it turns into a public display of Santa spirit," Allred said. "They dress up in Santa or holiday outfits that range from mild to wild."

Some cities, such as New York, have upwards of 50,000 Santas roaming the streets during the festivities, which began in 1994 in San Francisco and have since spread to 274 in 34 countries. Neighboring Portland, which has participated since about 1996, has 3,000 to 5,000 Santas each year, Allred said.

"We decided we needed to join in here in Vancouver," he said. "We've got 21 locations along Main Street planning to participate. All of them have responded wonderfully, with various offerings for the Santas when they come in."

Businesses such as Shanahan's Pub & Grill, Tommy O's, the Old Ivy Taproom, Niche, Loowit Brewing and Torque Coffee will have drink specials, food, candy and other goodies for participants. In exchange, the organizers are asking visitors to bring a donation of socks, which will be given to a variety of charities, including Share House.

"We tried to think of something we could sponsor, and we thought of socks — giving trees are always asking for them, and it's a pretty easy thing to carry around," Allred said.

The festivities will begin at around 3 p.m. at Mt. Tabor Brewing, 113 W. Ninth St., which will be open until 7 p.m. especially for SantaCon.

"Just about every bar, restaurant, business that's able to be open for this is involved," said Eric Surface, owner of Mt. Tabor. "This is the most involvement I've seen for a downtown event."

The taproom, which is usually closed on Saturdays, will be the main collection point for socks, although participating Santas can also drop them off at other spots downtown.

Surface will also have a supply of maps with participating businesses so Santas and their helpers can plan their route for the evening, he said.

"I think it's going to be fun," Surface said. "I hope we get a great turnout."

At about 7 p.m., the throngs of Santas should make their way to Kiggins Theatre, 1011 Main St., for a group photo. After that, the revelry is expected to continue until late in the evening, Allred said.

"Like all the celebrations, it's a bit of a bar mob," Allred said. "There's no designated path. There are wine tastings, special coffees, one location is making unique Santa hats and selling them, some places have happy hour all day long."

Some rules for the event, according to the official website, are:

• You MUST address everyone as "Santa."

• You SHOULD "ho-ho-ho" like Santa.

• You OUGHT to give out gifts like Santa.

• You MIGHT want to drink like Santa.

• Santa doesn't drink and drive and neither should you.

And if you don't want to dress up as Santa, that's OK too, Allred said. Elves, reindeer and any other holiday attire is also welcome.

"The requirement is the more Santa or holiday attire, the better," Allred said. "It's a celebration. It seems like a wonderful thing for us to get involved in."

Sue Vorenberg:;; 360-735-4457.