You won’t find this listed in Petaluma360’s “Things to do in Petaluma this weekend.”

Rumor has it that Petaluma will be graced with Santas today.  That’s right, “Santas”…plural.  If you have been waiting all year to see Santa arrive via the lighted boat parade this evening, you may want to bundle up and get downtown a little earlier in the day because “SantaCon is coming, Santa Con is coming!!!” (Read my “Kids Warning” below.)

Video – Santacon takes on Lombard Street


70,000 Santas in Moscow (2006)

The answer is complex yet simple.  Basically, it is a bunch of Santas out to have a good time and spread holiday cheer.  But at the same time it is a moving, breathing, spontaneous kind of street/performance/visual art.  Having witnessed several before I can attest to the fact that SantaCon is a sight to see, but more importantly is an experience to be part of.  SantaCons are held in major cities around the world so we are lucky to be graced with this fun and raucous bunch.  I doubt our Petaluma SantaCon will break any records but it will nonetheless be impressive to see a huge crowd of Santas roaming the downtown. 

 “SantaCon is a mass gathering of people dressed in Santa Claus costumes parading publicly on streets and in bars in cities around the world. The focus is on spontaneity and creativity, while having a good time and spreading cheer and goodwill.” – “SantaCon: Kringle Chaos is Coming to Town” Susan Donaldson James Dec. 11, 2009


“Sometimes known as Naughty Santas, Cheapsuit Santas, Santarchy, Santapalooza, and Santa Rampage, SantaCon incorporates elements of a flash mob in the context of cheerful bawdy and harmless behavior, the singing of naughty Christmas carols, and the giving of small gifts to strangers.” – “SantaCon” retrieved from Wikipedia on 12/11/2010

According to the instructions for today’s event…there basically aren’t any instructions.  As with events of this type, it is what each individual makes of it.  When asked who is in charge, they will tell you, “Santa.”  Along with creating some great photo opportunities, and spreading good, albeit somewhat naughty cheer, the Santas have also come to Petaluma to donate food and toys.  Although just a loosely affiliated group of Santas out to have a good time they do live by a few simple rules and clearly appreciate the uniqueness of our community. 

Directly from an email I received:

               “Don’t mess with kids.  You can bring toys and candy to hand out but don’t forget that these little ones believe that Santa is awesome so don’t be a d*$%!

               Don’t mess with security.  This is a no brainer Santa.

               Don’t mess with the Police!  Especially in Petaluma.  The law here is pretty 

               Intolerant, unlike San Francisco, who likes Santa enough to tolerate his s*$%. 

But please don’t mess with the police or you’re likely to mess up our entire day.”


Although a bit stern at times, I hope they have under estimated our PoPo’s understanding and appreciation for people who are simply out to have a good time.  These Santas are not the same people that roll into town (or out from under their rocks) for the sole purpose of getting drunk at Butter & Egg Days and then fighting each other in the streets.  Contrary to popular belief, SantaCon has no affiliation with the Santa riot of Auckland, New Zealand from 2005.  According to the SantaCon website, “We do not condone or encourage any kind of vandalism or violence at a Santacon event. Our santas do not destroy property, steal merchandise or do harm to others.”  But they may push the limits of your personal comfort zone and sensibility with their naughty Christmas carols.  For those of you on the prudish side, keep in mind that they are only words…they can’t hurt you.

Yes…there will be naughty Christmas caroling.  You can download your very own copy of the SantaCon Songbook at if you plan on joining in, which is loads of fun, by the way.  Within its tomes you will find variations on Christmas classics like “Whitetrash Wonderland”, “Rudy The Red-Nosed Raver”, and “Santa Is Invading Your Town.”  It also contains a great list of Santa pickup lines, such as, “What’s a nice girl like you doing on a naughty list like this?” and “Whattaya say, babe — you, me, a rooftop and a nice chilled bottle of 2% lowfat?”

Video – Santacon crashes a wedding at city hall


“In 1994, the Suicide Club in San Francisco staged the first “Santarchy”, which was later adopted by the Cacophony Society as SantaCon. Influenced by the surrealist movement, Discordianism, and other subversive art currents, the Cacophonists celebrated the Yule season in a distinctly anti-commercial manner, by mixing guerrilla street theatre and pranksterism. SantaCon has since evolved, spawning many different versions and interpretations of the event throughout the world.” – Hirsch, Daniel (2009-12-11). “25 Days of Weird Christmas: Santarchy”. San Francisco Chronicle.

Mr. Hirsch almost got it right; according to the SantaCon website’s FAQ’s, they are not anti-commercial.  These are regular everyday people, like you and I, who like to get together for some good holiday cheer, only these folks don’t half-ass it; they are out to do Santa proud…and loud.  “Don’t be a total douche!  Wear a suit!  And a hat doesn’t count as a suit.”  Again, these are NOT the same kind of people who have ruined the Butter & Egg Days festivities with their drunken debauchery.  These folks are professionals.  Our drunken hillbillies don’t know how to let it all hang out without going overboard.  These Santa folks have taken their festivities to a higher level, turning it into an art form, and bring the requisite responsibility that goes along with it.  These folks watch out for each other as well as police their own activities.

If you get a chance to visit downtown today I would highly recommend tracking down the Santas.  Running parallel to the main caveat of Burning Man, where ever possible don’t spectate; participate.  If you have a Santa suit, this is your chance to bust it out and jolly around with a bunch of your people.  If you don’t have a Santa suit, grab your camera because this is something Petaluma will likely never see again.  It will be yet another unique event that adds to the rich history of Petaluma.


Video – Santacon invades the Staten Island Ferry



As I like to tell people about taking kids to Burning Man…there is stuff going on there that you aren’t going to see anywhere else so if you are concerned about your kids’ impressionable little melons, you might want to wait to take them until they are old enough to ask questions and understand your answers.  That being said, this is not Burning Man; it is merely a large group of Santas out to have a good time and spread holiday cheer, although some of that cheer will likely be naughty at times.  (And before you go off on a rant, there are a large number of women Santas who are just as likely, if not more likely, to throw a naughty Santa pickup line your way.)

So, if you aren’t comfortable explaining to your kids why people would want to dress up as Santa and sing naughty Christmas carols, you might want to avoid downtown today.  On the other hand, if you have kids and like them to experience new and unique things, this is a prime opportunity that likely will not be back in Ptown for quite a while.

From Santacon’s “Ten Reasons why a Christmas Tree is Better Than a Men”

  • A Christmas tree knows it looks much better with a woman’s touch]
  • A Christmas tree is always the right fit, because you can assess the goods before bringing it home
  • When the Christmas tree starts to lose its needles and get saggy, you can throw it out

From Santacon’s “Ten Reasons why a Christmas Tree is Better Than a Woman.”

  • A Christmas tree doesn’t get jealous around other Christmas trees
  • A Christmas tree doesn’t care if you watch football all day

(Visited 23 times, 1 visits today)