Saturday was a pretty average day -- if a little cold -- until the chanting started. Listening through an open window in my North Beach apartment, I couldn't quite make out the words. So I headed toward Washington Square Park to see what all the commotion was about, and everything became clear.
They were chanting "Ho, ho, ho! Ho, ho, ho!" and by they, I mean about 200 people dressed in some version, and in many cases a perverse version, of Santa Claus. They were also playing dodge ball, climbing trees, pounding beers, and generally inciting chaos. The defenseless Benjamin Franklin Memorial quickly became a victim of that chaos when somebody wrote "HO" in white spray paint on the base (see above photo), then climbed the monument and santafied it.The Santa invasion is formally called Santacon, and it started in this very city back in 1994, then quickly spread to dozens of cities including London, Tokyo, and even McMudon Station, Antarctica. The event had been called anything from Red Menace to Santapalooza, and ranges from extremely nice, involving mostly Christmas Caroling, to extremely naughty, San Francisco-style.
Here, a Santa has dropped his bag of presents as he prepares to nail another Santa with a plastic ball. Meanwhile, his Santapants have gone south. Once the Santas had their way with Washington Square Park and Benjamin Franklin, they marched to the bars, tackling each other, playing tambourines, and smoking cigarettes along the way.
A pack of elves in smart black suits also wore ear pieces and tags that read, "AGENT" and seemed to be running things when they weren't flirting with sexy Santas.
A more terrifying species of elf was also in attendance -- the huggy elf. The picture below was taken just seconds before a huggy elf, without warning or good cause, embraced this reporter.
There were also plenty of creative Santas in attendance, including Jewish Santas, Christmas-tree headed Santas, S&M Santas, and Mistress Clauses. But nothing really beat this Mexican Wrestler Santa.