A couple hundred Santas, a few elves, and the occasional reindeer, gathered at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza at 12:12 p.m. Saturday to kick off the 16th Annual Santarchy, an event now celebrated world-wide.
This day is about everything naughty.
The weather report looked frightful, so some smart Santas collected $40 from a group of about 50 friends to charter a nice, warm, dry Bauer coach to make their march through the city in Santa outfits much more delightful.
The first iteration started in San Francisco back in 1994 when a bunch of people dressed up as Kris Kringle and took to the streets en mass a week or two before Christmas. There are now over 70 participating cities including citizens from Japan, Australia and Sweden.
The forecasted rain hadn't been too bad until about 12:20 p.m. when it really started dumping. There was a whole eight dry minutes.
Santas fled for cover under overhangs and bus shelters debating where to go to warm up. This event is a little like Critical Mass where a few people can decide to go one direction, and look back to see hundreds following them.
There are, however, organizers of this event which include incessant texters and tweeters, who helped to move the group along keeping people appraised of which neighborhoods were being invaded and what lucky bartenders were being greeted by hundreds of thirsty Santii.
The plan was for the Santas to meet up at Civic Center, and then spread out into three groups across the city, casting a wide net of holiday cheer.
I hung with a group huddled under a 5-Fulton bus shelter for a few minutes getting pounded by the rain when a big black chartered bus rolled up and stopped at our footsteps.
Ends up Ellen Santa, a veteran SF Santarchy event organizer, decided to break away from the masses this year so she planned an afternoon of activities for her closest Santa friends.
In exchange for two yuppie bucks ($40) each party-goer was given an official “Santarchy SF 2009 SANTA BUH!S” VIP laminate that was their ticket to ride.
On the bus songs were sung, drinks were drunk, and the unspeakable was happening everywhere.
The first stop was a women's shelter where Santas brought gifts of food to drop off with Christmas Cheer. Ellen Santa said after years of partying and going to bars, she wanted to make this Santarchy different and more special, and she thought giving back to the community was a good way of doing that.
The people at the Oshun Center for Women and Families were delighted by the surprise visitors who sang Christmas songs bringing smiles to the faces of everyone in the shelter.
After the shelter, Santa loaded back on the bus and headed across town to the Exploratorium where group tickets had been purchased as part of the bus fee.
The #1 destination in the museum was the Tactile Dome where Santa had to be split into two groups to go through the pitch-black tunnel of mystery, where your hands are the most useful way of getting around. You can imagine the fun that brought with a bunch of rowdy Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
After about an hour-and-a-half at the Exploratorium, the bus rolled up to the Golden Gate Bridge and about 10 Santas attempted a bridge walk, but were quickly stopped by police for bringing too much cheer, and unsafe visual hazards, to drivers. The Santas loaded back on the bus and headed to Union Square for the final stop in the trip.
I think the rain did put a little bit of a damper on the days events, but I can’t think of a better way to have escaped it then embedding myself with the Santa Buh!s. Thanks guys!