New York City’s SantaCon returned this year as hundreds took part in drunken debauchery after the booze-fueled festival was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
The event brought countless of maskless Santas, Grinches, reindeers and other holiday-themed characters to the Big Apple on Saturday to march, crawl through pubs and celebrate Christmas.
The fun times come amid concerns that the gathering might serve as a super-spreader for the COVID-19 Omicron variant, which has now been spotted in half of U.S. states, including New York.
At least 43 people in the country have contracted Omicron, with New York confirming 20 cases of the variant as of Friday, 13 of which were located in the city. New York has reported more than 11,000 new COVID cases over the past day and 80 new deaths.
Thousands came out in festive attire to celebrate New York City’s Santa con on Saturday after it was cancelled last year
The event took place despite worries that it might serve as a super-spreader for COVID-19
The annual pub crawl has hundred of Santas and other Christmas characters take the streets of the Big Apple
The event often features festive spirits, outrageous clothing, as well as some drunken mayhem
Several Grinches were spotted across Manhattan enjoying bottles of booze during the SantaCon celebration
Attendees to the SantaCon wear outfits designed after Father Christmas as they travel from bar to bar
Often times the outfits reveal a bit too much. Carl Plandford brought out his version of Santa near Times Square
One groups of friends celebrated the return of the festival with a sign that read, ‘You can’t kill SantaCon’
Along with the Santa outfits, participants dress as reindeer and other Christmas-themed characters
The annual pub crawl usually results in revelers being flagged for public urination, littering, and the usual disorder that results from mass drunkenness.
Hundreds of this year’s attendees also went maskless, even after outgoing NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio warned of further Omicron spread in the city.
‘We gotta assume there’s a lot more behind that and that it has been here for a meaningful amount of time,’ he said, warning more cases of the variant ‘were now inevitable.’
New York received its first confirmation of the Omicron variant in late November, after a Minnesota man attending the Anime NYC convention on November 22 tested positive for the virus.
Hochul also said Thursday that that man only suffered very mild symptoms, and has since recovered. She stated that there was no cause for alarm and that the state has the tools to stop the spread as Hochul reinstated New York’s mask mandate for all indoor venues unless the business requires customers to be vaccinated.
The Omicron COVID-19 variant is now in 25 states, after Arizona, Iowa, Michigan and Virginia joined the growing list on Thursday or Friday morning.
While Omicron dominates headlines, the Delta variant continues its spread nationwide, causing a 30 percent increase in new daily cases and 20 percent increase in deaths over the past two weeks.
Under de Blasio’s instructions, the city will maintain a mask-free environment for its New Years Eve festival as well.
The Omicron COVID-19 variant has now been sequenced around 80 times in at least 25 U.S. states, half of America
Authorities in New York have managed to contain the fallout in recent years after mass transit banned carrying alcohol, and police beefed up their presence while getting advance notice of the pub crawl route, which began on Broadway.
The SantaCon NYC Facebook group organizing the event also reminded members to avoid any mayhem and leave behind the event’s notorious past of drunken violence.
‘Don’t be the one who ruins a good time. Help out where you can. It’s a merry day and we want to keep it that way,’ the organization wrote on the group page just before the event began.
Organizers of the annual SantaCon reminded attendees to keep the usual mayhem down to a minimum
The festivities center around the New York City pup brawl, as evident by these attendees and their tequila Christmas hats
Even tour buses around Manhattan dressed up as the jolly red elf to take part in the celebration
The event kicked off on Broadway at the intersection of 6th Avenue and 39th Street on Saturday
Those who preferred not dress up as a Santa usually opted to come as one of his reindeer
Others went dressed in festive Christmas pajamas with Santa hats that read, ‘Naught’ and ‘Nice’
Many waved through traffic dressed as Santa to make it to the much anticipated bar crawl
Some couldn’t wait to get into bars for drinks and instead opted to drink some eggnog out in the streets
Still, the festivities were not without incident as police were spotted throughout the city, distributing tickets and breaking up fights between Santas.
MTA Police Chief Joseph McGrann told ABC 7 that the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains and platforms will keep its alcohol ban up until noon Sunday.
‘There may be riders coming back to the train for the first time since the start of the pandemic,’McGrann said.
‘It is important we do everything we can to maintain orderly travel so that everyone can enjoy their holiday plans by getting to their destinations smoothly and on time.’
The overzealous Santas that get too wild on booze receive their own naughty listings from the NYPD
The NYPD kept the streets as orderly as possible despite the drunk Santas strolling around Manhattan
SantaCon attendees stopped at one of the many pubs open for business as they made their way through the bar crawl
While the event has its wild roots, it’s also become a family friendly festival in recent years
The even brought hundreds together in NYC after celebrations were halted last year due to COVID
People wearing all kinds of outfits paraded across the streets of Manhattan as they heralded the festive season
The MTA said it would ban booze on all trains until Sunday noon to ensure the safety of all passengers
Hundreds gathered around Midtown as Santas lined up against a wall to chug eggnog during the celebration