John Lamb, Published December 14 2013
SantaCon gets festive while raising funds
Just as the North Dakota State University Bison finished rolling to a victory at the Fargodome, Santas dressed in red and white strolled around downtown Fargo, drinking beers and spreading cheer for a good cause.
The fourth annual SantaCon featured more than 100 Christmas-costumed merrymakers walking from bar to bar, raising money and collecting goods for the Gladys Ray Homeless Shelter and Veteran’s Drop-In Center.
Jan Eliason, director of the organizations, said SantaCon in other cities focuses more on the pub crawl, but local organizers wanted it to have an additional purpose.
“I just love it. It’s super festive. It gets people a chance to get out and have a good time and express their personality,” said Eliason, dressed in a Santa suit and a beard.
The event wasn’t just for Santas. Elves, reindeer, snow angels, Christmas trees, characters from “A Christmas Story,” a demon and other merrymakers joined in the celebration.
Dressed in a bathrobe and boots, Dennis Nelson was taking part in his first SantaCon, but already had a plan to survive the seven-bar trek.
“Move fast,” he said with a laugh.
Temperatures hovered just above zero as celebrations started at 2 p.m. at the Sidestreet Pub. The party moved to a different bar every hour and the temperature dropped steadily.
After a group shot at 2:45, the Claus clan trekked to the Hotel Donaldson, which got into the charitable spirit by offering a tip line on tabs and a seasonal drink and burger special to help raise funds.
Eric Wicklund dressed for the weather as a Krampus, the Yule-time beast of Germanic folklore who stuffs naughty children in his sack.
“I’m surprised I’m the only one,” Wicklund exclaimed, explaining that Krampus is popular in European Christmas parades.
He fashioned his own horned mask and adapted a gorilla suit for the hairy body, but wore layers underneath to keep warm.
Dressed as a Christmas tree by her friend Sheena Bucholz, Vicki Thorpe knew she wasn’t as well-prepared for the weather.
“I know I’m going to fall at least four times before these get destroyed,” she said, gesturing to her feet in boxes like presents.
Still, she said it was a fun way to support a worthy cause.
While drinking was a major part of the event, servers said the group, with an average age in the 40s, proved to be good guests.
“It’s one of the easiest pub crawls we do,” said Brian Patterson, bar manager at the Sidestreet. “They’re always in good spirits.”
“It is crazy awesome,” said HoDo manager Jason Laub, between making drinks. “It’s all for a good cause.”
Totals from Saturday’s event weren’t available, but Eliason said last year it raised just more than $2,000 as well as collecting ground coffee, winter hats and gloves and toiletries.
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533