New York's 'Santacon' bar crawl canceled by COVID-19

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Santacon, an annual bar crawl in which thousands of young people dressed in Santa Claus costumes roam — or stagger — through the streets of Manhattan, has been canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said.

The event, which had been scheduled for Dec. 12, is intended to raise money for charity, but more than a few locals may see the cancellation as an early Christmas present.

During Santacon, hordes of Santas usually move from bar to bar, downing shots. Complaints about rowdiness, inebriated participants and public urination typically follow.

"All of the reindeer got the 'Rona so, the Elves have advised Santa to hold off on the in-person merriment," organizers wrote on their website https://santacon.nyc earlier this week.

Instead the organizers encouraged readers to consider playing a drinking game at home or donating to a charity that provides food to workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

The decision was forced by emergency rules imposed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo has banned public gatherings of more than 10 people, shortened opening hours for bars and restaurants and required that alcohol only be served alongside a substantial serving of food.

The event traces its origins to San Francisco in 1994 as an effort to satirize Christmas-time consumerism. New York City hosts the largest Santacon offshoot, organizers say. The fate of similar events in other cities was unclear.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)