SantaCon’s return to Asbury Park on Saturday is being met with a cautionary welcome by city officials.
This will be the fifth year the holiday themed bar crawl will be held in Asbury Park, and given past complaints, City officials are going on the record to ask the thousands who visit to be respectful.
Salerno said he will increase the police patrol scheduled for the day and assign off-duty police officers to special details throughout the Central Business District and near establishments with liquor licenses, according to a written news release.
“The police department is taking a zero-tolerance approach to all such violations of the law and City ordinances,” Salerno said in the news statement. “In addition to arresting violators we will issue summons and hold liquor license establishments accountable for intoxicated persons who were served at their place of business.”
SantaCon is a global tradition that came to Asbury Park shortly after Superstorm Sandy. Local organizers said in the winter of 2012, many local businesses were struggling to reopen or stay open during the off season so they organized the event as a way to bring people together and collect donations for local relief efforts.
Each year since, the event has been organized with a food drive and toy collection drive, headquartered at Johnny Mac’s House of Spirits on Main Street.
This year, the popular pub will host the event launch once again, kicking off the bar crawl at 11 a.m. and remaining the food collection headquarters through 3 p.m. Santas will gather at noon by the Asbury Park train station.
“Everyone is welcome to Asbury Park, to enjoy our bars, restaurants, shops, and all that the City has to offer,” said City Councilperson Eileen Chapman. “We only ask that they treat Asbury Park the same way they’d want to see their own hometown treated.”
SantaCons participants dress in Santa and other holiday-themed costumes for their en masse move from bar to bar. Each participant is urged to bring at least two non-perishable food item to donate to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, and a toy to donate to the Asbury Park Toy Drive.
“We’re all for holiday cheer and a good cause, as long as participants remember to be good neighbors to Asbury’s businesses and other residents,” said Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn. “It should be possible for every Santa, reindeer, and elf to have a good time while maintaining a level of respect for those around them.”
The nation-wide phenomenon began in the 1990’s as street theater, or a performance art critique of holiday consumerism, according the municipal news release. As SantaCons spread around the country and the world, some events have drawn criticism for rowdiness, violence, or vandalism.
“Asbury Park is a place to come dine and responsibly have a few cocktails, but when violations take place the actors will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Salerno said.
The following is message from organizers with a list of participating venues from their SantaCon – Asbury Park Facebook page:
Johnny Mac House of Spirits – The best place to start your day and also the food and toy donations drop off spot…
Asbury Ale House – tons of games and music all day long
Skratch – A Very Licous Holiday Dance party w/ DJ Licious… 2 to 7 p.m. and then DJ High Def at 10 p.m…. Team Tony behind the Bar all day…
The Stone Pony – The Wrat is hosting their annual High Def Giveaway Holiday Party 5 to 7 p.m.
Bond Street Complex – The only underground holiday ping pong facilities in town. [They haven’t said whether they want us coming or not, but we are coming…]
Dark City Brewing Company – Wanted all to know they are welcome to get out of the crowds and taste some beers, maybe enjoy some a tour of their brewing operation. Opens at noon.
Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten – Who knows what is going on there on Friday, but the rooftop is always decorated amazingly for Christmas.
Porta Asbury Park – You wanna dance the nite away… Porta has what you need.. the beats! The boom boom room opens at 10 p.m.
The Asbury – A Great Nite time spot for some chill time. Cat London 8-11 and DJ Atom Worth 11-2
PRESS PLAZA CHRISTMAS TREE – An excellent photo spot for you and your friends to take group photos, and don’t forget to post them for all to see…
Convention Hall – Anchor’s Bend is a nice off the main path spot to hit for snacks and drinks as well as see Santa at the town Christmas tree.
THE AFTER PARTY – Still in the works… but will probably start at 10 p.m. somewhere interesting…
Important Notice – Make sure to keep it positive folks. Try and leave the down better than we found it please.
[Photos courtesy of SantaCon organizers from 2015 event]
The Asbury Park Sun is affiliated with the triCityNews newspaper.