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The coronavirus means no SantaCon in NYC this year, organizers say

Pre-pandemic SantaCon revelers are seen in Manhattan, long

Pre-pandemic SantaCon revelers are seen in Manhattan, long before organizers canceled this year's version.  Credit: Corey Sipkin

Add SantaCon to the long list of New York City staples done in by the coronavirus in 2020.

The annual holiday season bar crawl through New York City, where most revelers dress like Santa Claus while a smattering bounce from one watering hole to the next suited up as elves, is canceled, organizers said.

The pandemic shutdown of Broadway's Theater District forced Thursday's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to become an abridged version of its former self, and closed Giants and Jets home games in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to fans.

Regarding SantaCon, organizers took to its website Thursday, and with a subtle nod to the holiday season, urged revelers to "remain home and stay on the good list" to avoid spreading the virus further.

"All of the reindeer got the ‘rona, so the elves have advised Santa to hold off on the in-person merriment," organizers said. "There is no SantaCon NYC this year."

The event, launched in San Francisco in 1994, has remained a yearly New York City tradition since 1997. The website describes SantaCon as "a charitable, non-political, nonsensical Santa Claus convention that happens once a year to spread absurdist joy."

Despite its charitable component, the event has drawn criticism for flooding Manhattan with drunken revelers who create noise, traffic and debauchery.

Instead of the usual Christmas-themed carousing, disappointed SantaCon devotees should seek to "spread merriment, not infection" this year by donating to feed front line workers instead of celebrating the holidays in-person, organizers said.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases have surged in New York and around the country. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has limited gatherings at private residences to 10 and ordered bars to close by 10 p.m. The infection rate in New York City prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to shut down schools last week.

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