Visit MaineToday's profile on Pinterest.

About The Author


Shannon Bryan

Send an email | Read more from Shannon

Posted: December 3, 2013

Swigging Santas: Portland Santacon returns Dec 7

Written by: Shannon Bryan

Santa is quite the guy.

A giver of the purest kind, he is altruism personified. The masses adore him. Children flock to his side (and only sometimes cry when they get there). He’s written about, sung about, and has cookie cutters shaped to his likeness. He’s jolly, perfectly content with his body type, and frankly, seems like a load of fun to hang out with.

It’s no wonder that hundreds of locals here in Maine want to be just like him. Or at least dress like him. On Saturday, Dec 7, these Santa-loving people will slip into puffy red suits and fluffy white beards to spread holiday cheer around the city, just like the Ho-Ho-Hoing man himself. And they’ll parade from bar to bar to tip back a few pints, snap some Santa selfies, and otherwise bewilder passers-by (which Santa himself probably doesn’t do, but hopefully appreciates).

Saturday marks the sixth annual Santacon in Portland. The “Santa convention” gathers fans of Father Christmas to celebrate the season and the man who makes it happen by collectively raising their glasses in no less than five local bars.

And the parade of Santas overtaking the sidewalks when walking from one bar to the next is quite the spectacle, and also a solid Kris Kringle way to spread holiday spirit.

But Santacon isn’t all about Santa. Attendees can dress up as reindeer, elves, dreidels, trees or candy canes – any seasonally appropriate idea that inspires them.

The key is: Dress up in something. As the Santacon tips say, “Don’t be ‘that guy’ who shows up with only a Santa hat on. Be creative.” And also, “pace yourself… it’s going to be hard not to get a little too jolly, but don’t be ‘that Santa.’”

This year, Portland Santacon is also collecting donations for Family Crisis Services Domestic Violence Shelter, a domestic violence shelter in Portland. Some of the shelter’s most-needed items include: Shampoo, conditioner, body wash (no bar soap), canned goods, pasta, mac and cheese, spaghetti sauce, dried goods (rice, cereal, oatmeal, etc.), snacks (granola bars, pre-packaged cookies/crackers, boxed raisins), ground coffee and tea.

Santacon starts at 4 p.m. at Pat’s Pizza in Portland, and will travel to Monument Square around 6:15 p.m. for the annual “photo of many Santas, elves, advent calendars and reindeer in front of the Christmas tree.”

After that, it’s Gritty’s, Bull Feeney’s, Grace and Brian Boru. And yes, attendees can expect to belt out a few carols during the trek from one bar to the next. It’s what Santa would want. Keep track of where they are and where to meet them via Twitter: @santaconpwm or Facebook:

The Itinerary

4 pm start at Pat’s Pizza
6:15 pm obligatory Monument Square Photo
On Oasis
On Gritty’s
On Bull Feeney’s too!
On Grace
Then onto Brian Boru!
11 pm until the reindeer come home: Brian Boru

View Portland Santacon 2013 in a larger map

‘Twas the night before Santacon

‘Twas three weeks before Christmas, and all through the Old Port
Some creatures were stirring – a fat, jolly sort.

The brewpubs and bars had been opened with care,
In the hopes that kind drinkers soon would be there.

A lone Santa appeared on Congress Street,
Headed toward town, with more Santas to meet.

Then a clatter arose in Monument Square,
Twenty or more Santas had congregated there!

Reindeer and elves and an advent calendar, too,
The poor onlookers knew not what to do.

Cars honked from the street and Santas gathered ’round.
And I knew in a moment: Santacon was in town.

But there were no toys to be found, no sleigh to be seen.
Santa without presents? That’s downright mean.

But these Santas aren’t real – not even near it,
But they’ll drink all day to spread holiday spirit.

And off they go down the street! A whole Santa troop!
And look! There’s Rudolph leading the group!

Into Empire they shuffle, still sober and clear,
And hail to the bartender to get their first beers.

“On Guinness! On Geary’s! On Allagash White!
On Prelude! On Pabst! We’re drinking all night!”

From bar to brewpub, they dashed through downtown,
And drew laughs (and confusion) from the people around.

And I heard one explain (’twas the elf with the tights):
Happy Santacon to all, and a debaucherous night!

– Shannon Bryan

Up Next: