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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane SantaCon promises jolly good fun

Rather than hurrying down the chimney, these Santa cuties will be bustling from bar to bar.

Spokane’s SantaCon is Saturday.

The Santa-themed pub crawl starts at the downtown O’Doherty’s Irish Grille. Organizers will be accepting food or cash donations for the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant.

Participation in the so-called “Running of the Santas” is free. But there are guidelines. Attendees must be 21 and over, dress like – and refer to one another as – Santa, stick together and eat, drink and be merry. Santas are also expected to pay for their own food or beverages.

Started in San Francisco in 1994, SantaCon celebrations now take place around the world on the same day. They aren’t protests against Christmas or commercialization – or anything.

SantaCon is really about having a good time.

But, in some cities, Santas have been known to get unruly, wrecking the proverbial halls instead of decking them. Last year, a New York Times opinion piece called for the event to be banned in the Big Apple, where this year some neighborhood bars have pledged to prohibit SantaCon participants.

The editorial complained the Santas “participate en masse in an often literal bar crawl, cramming 12 nights of Christmas boozing into a single afternoon” and likened the “typical participant” to Billy Bob Thornton in “Bad Santa.”

Spokane’s SantaCon is cheerful but also smaller – gathering a few dozen particpants versus a few hundred. Plus, it’s a benefit for a nonprofit which provides meals to women and children in need in Spokane.

Jon Noland, 48, of Spokane, is helping get the word out about the event again this year – but he couldn’t be reached for comment. Last year, he told The Spokesman-Review, “It’s to try to get more stuff downtown, to try to get more people down here.”

A small group of about a half-dozen or so people took part in the local SantaCon in 2012. Last year, with the help of more advertising through fliers and a Facebook page, there were some 30 or so participants.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ santaconspokane.

Spokane’s SantaCon starts at 4 p.m. Saturday at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, 525 Spokane Falls Blvd.

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