Kris Kringle has been downsized, and not in a Chris Christie way.
After more than a century of bringing comfort and joy to the streets of New York, Sidewalk Santas have been given the boot by the Volunteers of America.
“The program was just not the most effective way of raising money,” said group vice president Rachel Weinstein. Those willing to stand on a freezing cold street corner and ring a bell were increasingly difficult to find__and Santas who were hired weren’t pulling their weight as fundraisers.
Well, at least we’ll always have the annual march of the Sidewalk Santas up 5th Avenue, right Rachel?
“We have also retired the Sidewalk Santa Parade,” said Weinstein.
No Santa Clauses? The Rockefeller Center Tree and Sidewalk Santas are perhaps the two most iconic symbols of Christmas in New York. Now one is gone.
What will replace these merry St. Nicks? Online donations and corporate partnerships. Bah humbug!
But Sidewalk Santas aren’t the only red-suited rascals being purged from our fair city. Ho no.
SantaCon, a flashmob-type pub crawl also known as the Santa Rampage and Santapalooza, is also being discouraged by the NYPD.
While organizers of the annual event say its just clean fun, with participants dressed as Santa engaging in cheerful, harmless behavior (aside from the occasional naughty Christmas carol) Lt. John Cocchi of the Midtown North Precinct describes the mass gathering of Santa wannabes in a somewhat different manner.
‘Having thousands of intoxicated partygoers roaming the streets urinating, littering, vomiting and vandalizing will not be tolerated in our neighborhood,” he said in a letter to bar owners.
Well, when you put it that way…
Like the Sidewalk Santas (ok, not quite) those participating in SantaCon also claim to raise money for charity. The SantaCon website suggests giving gifts to both children and worthy organizations. But drinking is also encouraged, as per this website guideline: “Please pay for your drinks as soon as you get them. Santa gets tired of waiting for other Santas to clear their bar tab before moving on.”
So it looks as if our streets will be devoid of both naughty and nice Santas this season. Talk about snuffing the holiday spirit!