December 5, 2013

Santacon is coming to town

The annual ‘Santa convention’ is about to crawl Portland’s pubs

By Shannon Bryan
Staff Writer

Santa is quite the guy.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Elves on the loose during Santacon 2009.

Press Herald file

A giver of the purest kind, he is altruism personified. The masses adore him. Children flock to his side (and only sometimes cry when they get there). He’s written about, sung about, and has cookie cutters shaped to his likeness. He’s jolly, perfectly content with his body type, and frankly, seems like a load of fun to hang out with.

It’s no wonder that hundreds of locals here in Maine want to be just like him. Or at least dress like him. On Saturday, these Santa-loving people will slip into puffy red suits and fluffy white beards to spread holiday cheer around the city, just like the ho-ho-ho-ing man himself. And they’ll parade from bar to bar to tip back a few pints, snap some Santa selfies, and otherwise bewilder passers-by (which Santa himself probably doesn’t do, but, we hope, appreciates).

Saturday marks the sixth annual Santacon in Portland. The “Santa convention” gathers fans of Father Christmas to celebrate the season by collectively raising their glasses in no fewer than five local bars.

And the parade of Santas overtaking the sidewalks when walking from one bar to the next is quite the spectacle, and also a solid Kris-Kringle way to spread holiday spirit.

But Santacon doesn’t stop with Santa. No, no, no. Attendees can dress up as reindeer, elves, dreidels, trees or candy canes – any seasonally appropriate idea that inspires them. The key is: Dress up in something. As the Santacon tips say, “Don’t be ‘that guy’ who shows up with only a Santa hat on. Be creative.”

More good advice: “Pace yourself ... it’s going to be hard not to get a little too jolly, but don’t be ‘that Santa.’ ”

This year, Portland Santacon is also collecting donations for Family Crisis Services’ domestic violence shelter in Portland. Some of the shelter’s most-needed items include: Shampoo, conditioner, body wash (no bar soap), canned goods, pasta, mac and cheese, spaghetti sauce, dried goods (rice, cereal, oatmeal, etc.), snacks (granola bars, pre-packaged cookies/crackers, boxed raisins), ground coffee and tea.

Santacon starts at 4 p.m. at Pat’s Pizza on Market Street in Portland, and will travel to Monument Square around 6:15 p.m. for the annual “photo of many Santas, elves, Advent calendars and reindeer in front of the Christmas tree.”

After that, it’s Gritty’s, Bull Feeney’s, Grace and Brian Boru. And yes, attendees can expect to belt out a few carols during the trek from one bar to the next. It’s what Santa would want. Keep track of where they are and where to meet them via Twitter at @santaconpwm or on Facebook at

Shannon Bryan can be contacted at:

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