NYC SantaCon Gets Shipwrecked After Party Boats Canceled Before Weekend Festivities

SantaCon has canceled plans for five party boats offered as part of the annual bar crawl, citing concerns from local politicians and a lack of planning from the event's organizers.

The gathering featuring participants dressed as Santa Claus and other Christmas-themed characters is scheduled for December 14 in New York City, and marketing materials for the event promoted free trips on the party boats, fundraising for the Secret Sandy Claus Project, and "absurdist joy." In a since-deleted Instagram post, SantaCon advertised hourly cruises departing from the Skyport Marina every hour beginning at 11 a.m.

According to Gothamist, up to 2,000 Santa Clauses would have been able to dance to live music and DJs on the free, Fireball-sponsored party boats.

However, in a letter sent Tuesday by New York City Council Member Keith Powers, Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, the men raised concerns of noise, crowd control and traffic disruptions to the neighborhood near the marina. The letter also requested that transportation company NY Waterway, whose subsidiary Dock NYC operates Skyport Marina, provide a detailed plan to manage large crowds, both on the boats and docks, as well as plans for security and traffic.

"A full-day free event of this size, particularly one which attracts attendees likely to be intoxicated, will cause a substantial disturbance to the neighborhood," the letter stated. The politicians also noted the decreased police presence around SantaCon, which will offer the event less assistance in keeping a large crowd contained. "[O]n a day like SantaCon, the NYPD's 13th Precinct will have fewer resources than usual to devote to the task of managing crowds and traffic at the marina."

Will SantaCon be naughty or nice this year?

Here’s the letter from myself, @bradhoylman, and @HarveyforNY asking event planners to be good neighbors this year as @FireballWhisky and SantaCon descend on our district.

— Keith Powers (@KeithPowersNYC) December 10, 2019

After receiving the letter, NY Waterway Vice President David Liloia told Gothamist Tuesday that the event was canceled due to the concerns and a lack of planning on the part of SantaCon.

"In response to the community and everyone else's concerns, it's best they don't have it," he told Gothamist. "They really decided amongst themselves they didn't want to do it. They canceled it... It takes more planning than they anticipated."

In a statement to Newsweek, Dock NYC's spokesman said the company, "takes community relations seriously and told the boat operators they would have to take a number of steps, including getting permission from the local police precinct, to assure a safe operation with little impact on the community."

The spokesperson added that there were never definitive plans for the cruises. "Dock NYC never told the boat operators they could do it and never told the [event] operators they couldn't do it. The discussions never got that far," the spokesperson told Newsweek.

A SantaCon spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek that politicians did not reach out to the event organizers and only sent the letter to NY Waterway. "Santa is always happy to work with any city/state agency," a spokesperson said.

Following the cancellation, Powers celebrated on Twitter, writing, "Do You Hear What I Hear? The event has been canceled. Thanks to NY Waterway for your quick response," he wrote.

Later, Powers retweeted those who supported his efforts to stop the event.

"I'll tell you who thinks @KeithPowersNYC is a hero: All the ER nurses who won't have to deal with those belliferent puke-covered santas," one supporter wrote.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

The event has been canceled. Thanks to NY Waterway for your quick response.

— Keith Powers (@KeithPowersNYC) December 10, 2019

I'll tell you who thinks @KeithPowersNYC is a hero: All the ER nurses who won't have to deal with those belligerent puke-covered santas.

— T🤬dd (@HealthStudent) December 11, 2019
People dressed as Santa Claus participate in the annual bar crawl SantaCon on December 9, 2017 in New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty