18 Things Worth Knowing About The Santa Crawl

1. We’re not just a bar crawl, we’re a fund raiser

We raise money for the Pat Boland Memorial Internship Fund. The Boland Fund is run by the Penn State College of Communications and is designed to award grants to PSU students who are interning at media outlets around the state. The money is raised by selling wristbands for $20. Our bar partners have generously agreed to waive their cover charges for anyone wearing a Santa Crawl wristband – a win/win for all involved.

39120808_s2. We are the largest annual donor to the Pat Boland Fund.

To date, we have raise over $30,000 for the Boland Fund and hope to reach $50K this year. Our annual gift has helped the fund meet several key goals. Four years ago our donation kicked the fund over its initial funding target enabling it to start awarding grants.

3. 100% of the monies raised go to the Boland Fund.

Santa Crawl organizers and partners absorb all of the operating expenses for the event. 100% of the money from the wristband sales goes to the Boland Fund, we have zero overhead.

4. We are part of a worldwide grass routes organization called SantaCon.

SantaCon bar tours are a worldwide phenomena with events takng place in over 100 cities worldwide, the most famous, some would say infamous, of which it the one in New York which annually attracts over 10,000 participants. This year’s New York event will be held on Saturday Dec 10th, the same day after ours. Our SantaCon page is located here.

5. The State College Santa Crawl is well over a decade old.

The first State College Santa Crawl was in 2004 and had just five participants. We have grown considerable since then with an estimated 700+ people attending last year.

6. SantaCon is over two decades old.

The SantaCon movement got its start in 1994 in San Francisco. It was a flash mob before flash mobs got trendy organized by the Cacaphony Society of San Francisco and was called Santarchy. Today, the Santarchy website serves as a worldwide resource for Santacon events.

7. We’re part of a worldwide Snapchat SantaCon Story.

Snapchat will be conducting a day long worldwide event on December 10th, where they will be collecting snaps from SantaCon participants around the globe and posting them under a common SantaCon Story.  The Snapchat crew has built a geofence around the State College Santa Crawl route and you will only be able to post to the story if you are inside the boundaries of that geofence during the Crawl hours (6pm until 2am EST).   However, anyone worldwide will be able to view the SantaCon story.

8. The idea for the Santa Crawl came from former PSU hoops star Brian Allen.

In 2003, Brian spotted me (SantaLar) wandering around town in a Santa suit (I had just used it to crash the Hooter’s Christmas party). He was the one that told me about friends of his who ran a SantaCon event in DC and suggested that we organize one in State College for the next year. That sounded like fun, so I quickly agreed. Neither of us could ever have imagined how big this thing has gotten.

9. The idea for making it a fund raiser came from former PSU football star, Keith “The Goon” Conlin.

Former WMAJ news and sports reporter Pat Boland helped introduce Keith to the broadcasting business. Pat also participated in some of the early Santa Crawls. When Pat tragically lost his fight with cancer in 2011, Keith suggested that we channel some of the Santa Crawl enthusiasm in a positive direction by raising money for the fund that had been established at the College of Communication in Pat’s name. The pairing has worked wonderfully.

10. We are down three bars from last year.

Sadly, the building where we have traditionally started is now a hole in the ground. Kildare’s (formerly Hooters) recently closed their doors to begin construction on a new high rise apartment building on the site. 2016 also saw longtime Crawl partner Rotelli permanently close their doors. Also, Champs Downtown, which pulled off a Grand Opening on the day of the Crawl last year, is temporarily closed for renovations (we had hoped Champs would once again pull off a surprise opening for the Crawl but it was not to be – look for their reopening early next semester and for them to rejoin the Santa Crawl circuit next year). The net of it all is that we are down to 15 pubs.

11. You don’t have to go to every bar.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Fifteen bars in six hours is a bit much for anyone. The expectation is that following the launch parties at Primanti’s and Cafe 210, you will simply pick your favorite establishments from the list and make your way to then at your own pace. All the bars have been informed to expect Crawlers to show up around 9 pm.

12. This is primarily an adult professional event. It is not student dominated.

While we don’t discriminate and students are certainly welcome, this is primarily an adult professional crowd – we have doctors, lawyers, and maybe even Indian chiefs. Partially because the Crawl is always scheduled just before finals week, student attendance is down from a normal weekend night downtown. That makes room for the rest of the State College community to enjoy the event.

13. We have never had an alcohol related incident that required the involvement of the authorities (at least none that I am aware of)

Knock on wood. We want this to continue. We strongly believe that adults can behave responsibly even when alcohol is included. Please help keep it that way. We want this to be a safe happy holiday experience for all.

14. Wristbands can be purchased in advance.

Because of the sheer numbers of people participating, I encourage people to pre-purchase wristbands. We’ve had multiple locations, the Hotel State College, the Tavern Restaurant, and Bradley’s Steaks, selling the wristbands all week long (I’m pretty sure you can pick them up at the Cafe too). Get them ahead of time so you avoid the logjam at initial start of the event.

15. You don’t need to buy a wristband to participate.

While we certainly encourage people to purchase one so that we can support our charity partner, if you are just going to join us for a short time, you can jump in at any point. You might have to pay a cover charge at the bar, but you can certainly participate in the holiday fun.

16. You cannot overdress for this event.

I can’t tell you the number of times that I had a first year rookie tell me that they were reluctant to dress up in any kind of Santa garb, so they went minimalist. That minimalist approach had the opposite effect than they had planned. Undoubtedly their reluctance to fully dress was because they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves. What they failed to realize was that by going minimal, they were actually going to be the ones that stood out. So don’t be that guy that just shows up in a hat, jump in with both feet and embrace the event.

17. It’s not too late to get a suit.

Party City, located in the Barnes and Noble Plaza, across the Benner Pike from the Nittany Mall, has plenty of Christmas themed costumes for sale. Even better, they are offering Santa Crawlers a 15% discount on holiday costumes and accessories (that’s up 5% over previous years). To get the discount, go to our SantaCon webpage and click on the Party City link on the right to print off the coupon (or take a picture of the coupon barcode with your smartphone).

18. We have a sister event “Run Rudolph Run”

If you are a non-drinker, or are underage, and want to participate in the Santa Crawl festivities we have an alternative for you. The Santa Crawl has join with LeftRightRepeat to sponsor a 5K Run/Walk through the Borough of State College the morning of the event. Information on the event can be found on the race website, LeftRightRun’s website, or “Run Rudolph Run” Facebook Event Page.  Discounted pricing is available for people participating in both events.  Pre-register here.


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