Very Bad Santas: 12 SantaCon Horror Stories

An all-too-familiar sight for New York residents.
An all-too-familiar sight for New York residents. Photo: Buena Vista Images

On Saturday, grown men and women wearing Santa costumes will, once again, attack New York bars and restaurants for SantaCon — an annual event that often ends with a trail of vomit, urine, and half-eaten pizzas. Despite what police commissioner Ray Kelly says, SantaCon’s anything but jolly. Here’s proof: Grub Street asked bartenders, restaurant staffers, and regular ‘ol disturbed citizens to anonymously share their painful memories of bearded idiots doing very, very stupid things. Here are a dozen of the worst.

The East Village resident who met a puking Santa on her stoop: Last year, I left my apartment in the mid-afternoon, during prime SantaCon time, and when I opened the door of my building, I was met by an individual wearing plaid boxers, suspenders, and a Santa hat (no shirt, questionable shoes), vomiting on my stoop. Once he had finished, I guess he decided he should really go for the gold star, so he then peed all over his neat pile of vomit, causing it to (somewhat) clean the offending area of my stairs. He finally realized I was there and went for a high-five.

The pizza-shop employee with a face-planting customer: It’s our busiest day of the year to sell pizza. But the Santas are drunk and they have no money. They often just stand there and don’t even order. No manners. It’s a mess. We had a girl fall asleep on her slice. She just face-planted on the pizza.

The bar owner who saw a midday knife fight: Brutal day. I don’t let them in. It’s blood money. I even saw a stabbing last year at two o’clock in the daytime.

The guy who learned that you do not attempt to hook up after SantaCon: I met a girl at a bar, and we went on a few dates and had a nice time. I was planning to meet her at night, after SantaCon, and my phone rang in the afternoon and she asked if she could hang out before I went out for dinner. She showed up in her Santa outfit, wasted and disheveled — obviously this wasn’t heading anywhere good.

Apparently, she lost the keys to her apartment and had no place to go. So rather than bring this girl dressed as Santa to dinner with my friends, I decided to just order food, stay in, and go to sleep on my couch. I woke up hours later to this girl crying in her Santa costume. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she had cramps. She asked that I go to CVS to buy her a hot-water bottle. In the morning, I told her that I was going out for breakfast with my friends, and that she could let herself out when she was ready. I came back to my apartment hours later, and she was still there and in her Santa outfit! I hate that stupid event.

The hostess who had to literally hoist drunk Santas out of her restaurant: The restaurant that I work at doesn’t participate in SantaCon, and when it does happen, we have a manager who’s close to the entrance door to stop Santas from coming in. Last year, some people who were inebriated slipped by, and they ran around the restaurant trying to find a bathroom. Our bathrooms are downstairs, which I guess is confusing for drunk people. We had to physically pick up some girls and put them outside. Regular patrons thanked us.

The SantaCon attendee who has a few regrets: This story starts in September of 2012, when I met a woman on a plane back to New York. After a few months of wooing and cajoling, she decided that she wished to visit me in New York. The fateful day that she picked to visit was SantaCon. I started the day off with whiskey pong. People playing whiskey pong at 11 a.m. have serious issues. She was arriving a little after 7 p.m. to stay the night, and I figured I’d sober up a bit before taking her out.

But I continued my drinking marathon into the late afternoon, and after consuming just short of twenty drinks at the pregame, I decided to follow my friends to the 13th Step. I didn’t have any pockets in my Buddy the Elf onesie, and after not being able to buy my way in with my watch, I apparently decided to wander around for a few hours to pass the time. I don’t know how I got home or why I woke up naked at 10 p.m., but the 30 missed calls from her were a wonderful cherry on top of my gut-wrenching hang-over. She had come to New York for the night to see me and left in tears the same evening.

The kicker here was the Buddy the Elf costume. It wasn’t in my apartment. After a bit of searching, I gave up, only to eventually stumble upon it in the lobby of my building. Why and when I decided to strip down to my underpants in the dead of December in the lobby of my apartment building still remains a mystery.

The bartender who learned that even SantaCon planners have reservations about the event: We don’t let the Santas into our bar. Last year, one of the SantaCon planners came in, and we said, “Please don’t bring your Santas here!” And he actually said, “I would never do that; I like this place too much.” We were thankful for that. Seeing Santas barfing on the street and wreaking havoc has led us to not want to be a part of it at all. And the fact that our bar is so small: If one of them comes, they’re all here. They travel in packs.”

The bartender that got stiffed by bar-trashing Santas: My bar opens at 8 a.m. every day, so we’re the bar that most of the Santas start at. We get them before they’re too drunk, but I’ve never seen so many people at the bar at 8 a.m. before … and I’ve never seen so many people act like animals. Whole pizzas on the floor. People sneaking in their own bottles of beer and liquor. Trash everywhere. It’s disgusting. I had to clean up an entire pizza that had spilled on the floor, which people had stepped all over. And they don’t tip very well. They order six drinks at a time and leave you one dollar.

The customer who stood up to a giant, drunk Santa (sort of): A random bridge-and-tunnel asshole pushed a girl walking out of Finnerty’s. He was huge and I’m, well, not, so instead of fighting him and probably losing, I stuck my foot out as he walked by and tripped him into the bouncer, who promptly beat and tossed his ass.

The bar back whose smoke break was ruined by urine odor: I was already worn out halfway through my shift, thanks to an endless slew of drunken Santas demanding an endless slew of drinks, with a line out the door of more drunken Santas trying to get in. I stepped outside for a smoke break, but instead dashed back in thanks to the strong stench of urine that filled the air, making it nearly impossible to breathe.

The restaurant staffer who would like his buzzers back: Like any touristy restaurant, we use those little buzzer pagers to form a wait line. We never lose them. People keep track of them. But when SantaCon comes, we’ll lose ten over the course of five hours. People fall asleep on tables. Every once in a while, we’ll serve someone a nonalcoholic beer instead of a regular beer without telling them.

The woman who just doesn’t understand why these people drag Santa down: I arrived at Grand Central Station and was trying to disembark when I got caught in a crowd of rowdy Santas. I literally could not get off the platform, and then I had a hard time getting out of the station. I was in the middle of what felt like an angry mob of fake Santas that were singing and drinking — and I thought: One, are you allowed to drink in the middle of Grand Central? And two, why are they desecrating Santa, the most loved of all myths?

Very Bad Santas: 12 SantaCon Horror Stories