During a typical year, the holiday season in Hoboken brings with it floods of 20-somethings on downtown city streets for the annual SantaCon bar crawl to the annoyance of neighborhood residents.
But this year is anything but typical due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has halted the somewhat rowdy tradition.
A post by the Hoboken SantaCon Facebook page said no crawl will be organized this year.
“Regretfully, given the CDC guidelines about social distancing, the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and the capacity limitations in our local bars and restaurants, we will NOT be organizing a Santacon Bar-crawl in Hoboken this year,” states the Facebook post. “We are not affiliated with any Hoboken SantaCon event, holiday bar crawl or similar type event that claims to be ‘happening’ this year and we would strongly advise against participating.. it should come as no surprise to you that this is just not a good idea, though ultimately we defer to the guidance issued by Governor Murphy and Hoboken City Hall.”
Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante confirmed that the annual “SantaCon” event was officially canceled in the city due to safety precautions and regulations related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Safety is job one
“Our sole goal as Mayor and Police Chief is to keep Hoboken residents safe, and an unsanctioned, crowded bar crawl would have presented substantial challenges related to the pandemic,” said Bhalla and Ferrante in a joint statement Dec. 2. “We are glad to share that SantaCon has officially been canceled by the event organizers, which will help protect Hoboken residents from a potential super-spreader type event. Thank you to the many bars and restaurants who from the very beginning, refused to participate in SantaCon, as these events continue to lose steam.”
Despite the announced cancellation Hobokensantacon.com, pubcrawl.com, and thesantacon.com were still advertising a Hoboken SantaCon bar crawl for Saturday, Dec. 19 as of Dec. 2.
The websites do not name any bars participating but do advertise “All Access Passes” with discounts available for big groups.
SantaCon, along with other “con” events have never been approved or sanctioned by the city but are organized by third party promoters with local bars and restaurant participants.
In years past, SantaCon revelers donning red and green ensembles, Santa or elf costumes, or their best ugly sweaters have been cited for various violations such as public intoxication or urinating in public.
Last year, police responded to 521 calls for service. There were also 49 City Ordinance Summonses, 33 of which were for open containers of alcohol in public as well as 34 Motor Vehicle Moving Violation summonses.
Twenty individuals were transported to hospitals for alcohol-related issues, and eight people were arrested for offenses ranging from trespassing to aggravated assault of a police officer.
Earlier this year, the similar “LepreCon” event that took place in early March had an all-time low of only four bars participating.