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John Lamb, Published December 11 2010

Lamb: Santas gather for good cause

Downtown Fargo will be seeing red late this afternoon and evening.

A lot of red.

As many as 90 Santas are expected to take to the streets as part of the first area SantaCon.

Similar Santa summits have been held around the world, says local organizer Tracy Faleide. The event started in 1994 as a flash mob in San Francisco and grew from there.

“It was all about fun and irreverent debauchery, if you will,” Faleide says. “That’s usually what it’s all about.”

In 2007, 13,000 Santas jammed the streets of Derry in Northern Ireland, setting the record for the most Santas in one place.

Oh, the Irish sure do get in the Christmas spirit for their spirits.

While 27 other cities around the world are hosting similar events today, Faleide says Fargo’s SantaCon probably won’t be as scandalous as others, sometimes called “Santarchy.” The Fargo event is also a bit of a fundraiser for the Fargo Youth Commission/Boys and Girls Clubs.

“I think women are more likely to enjoy things that have to do with costumes,” Faleide says.

This year’s “sleigh route” includes the Sidestreet Grille and Pub, Empire Liquors, Dempsey’s Irish Pub, the HoDo Lounge and the VFW.

Participating Santas, Mrs. Clauses and elves are encouraged to dress for the weather (expected highs in the single digits) and are welcome to accessorize.

But all Santas are expected to follow some ground rules.

“A good Santa is respectful and tips servers and has an ID handy and doesn’t do anything obnoxious to scare kids or families,” Faleide says.

The readily available IDs and tips are important as some bars are reluctant to welcome unannounced pub crawls for fear of being suddenly slammed by thirsty patrons. Some bars even asked participants to stay away during last spring’s zombie pub crawl.

Then again, zombies just groan and leave behind a bloody mess. Literally. The worst thing Santas leave behind is coal for those who’ve been very bad.

“Watching Santa get drunk and rowdy is fun. Babysitting Santa while he vomits in an alley is not. Don’t be that Santa,” a note on the group’s Facebook page says.

Giving Santa a bad name could not only result in a lump of coal but also banishment from the North Pole or a banning from all future SantaCons.

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Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533