Santa Claus could learn a thing or two about becoming more aerodynamic from the style choices of 23-year-old Murphy Potter.
For Saratoga Springs’ first SantaCon, which gathers people dressed as Santa or in other festive attire at local bars, with a bit of real charity thrown in, Potter’s red suit was a sleek ski racing outfit. The form-fitting, shiny material clung to his body as he sipped a beer in Putnam Den, the first of seven local bars opening their doors for the event. The rest of his outfit included ski goggles, a traditional Santa hat and a beard he made by gluing cotton balls to a piece of paper.
Shortly after the event started at noon, Putnam Den was filled with patrons in a variety of costumes, including the traditional Santa suit, people dressed as presents and people simply wearing elf ears. Andrew Beam, 24, of Waterford, assembled a red cape, goggles, red socks and a stereotypically ugly green Christmas sweater for the occasion.
“This is my Elton John look,” he said, donning goggles similar to the gaudy eyeware the British singer is famous for.
To show off his socks, Beam rolled his jeans up to his ankles. The cape he had from high school, where he made it for a class project, and the sweater had been borrowed from his mother.
“This sort of environment encourages ridiculousness,” he added.
Potter described the event as a good way to share some of the Christmas spirit and enjoy a day of drinking for a good cause.
That’s what 25-year-old Michelle Nochisaki had in mind when she borrowed the idea of New York City’s SantaCon, which attracts thousands.
“I usually go to the one in New York City, but I had my sister and niece visiting from Sicily,” she said. “... I couldn’t miss out on all that time with them, so I got really bummed, because I would miss out on an annual thing with all my friends.”
Her response was to organize her own event, which she initially thought would just include a few friends. In keeping with the theme of the New York City event, which is a fundraiser, Nochisaki reached out to the Franklin Community Center and promised to donate food, even if she had to go out and buy everything herself.
Generating a crowd didn’t turn out to be a problem, though, as more than 50 people were at the Putnam Den in the first hour and the back of a pickup truck had been filled with non-perishable food donations by early afternoon.
After Putnam Den, participants were scheduled to move on to Peabody’s, the Seven Horse Pub, the Saratoga City Tavern, Desperate Annie’s, the Bull Pen and the Paddock.
Nochisaki was grateful to Putnam Den for opening its doors five hours early on Saturday. There was also live music by the band Dead Horse Beat, whose lead singer remarked, “It’s unusually early for all of us.”
Nochisaki hopes that in the future all the local bars will be open early for the event, and she also wants to see it expand with carolers in the streets, like in New York City.