HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — They pouted, they cried, they drank Hoboken dry, and now dozens of partiers at New Jersey’s SantaCon are in trouble with the law.
Police in Hoboken announced that 14 people were arrested during Saturday’s Christmas themed pub crawl that attracted hoards of drinkers dressed as Santa or other festive characters.
The partying, which is supposed to raise money for charity, got out of control and even saw a brawl break out at a local restaurant.
“It’s messy. It’s a lot. It’s Rambunctious. And I don’t think it really represents what Hoboken is,” resident Michael Davis told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.
Four police officers were injured while dealing with the unruly crowds and over 40 summonses were issued during the holiday debacle. Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante added that some of his officers were also exposed to the blood of beaten-up Santas at the restaurant melee and had to see medics as a precaution.
“We don’t stand for that. Trust me, the bar owners don’t stand for that. Nobody in town stands for that,” bar owner Mike Citarella said.
Citarella owns Pig & Parrot on Hudson Street, one of just 10 bars that participated this year, down from 30 in 2017. To control the crowds, he rented portable bathrooms and barricades to keep bar goers from blocking sidewalks.
“It is chaotic, but it also good for the town because it brings revenue,” Citarella said.
Ferrante publicly condemned the pub crawl. According to local reports, there were far fewer New Jersey bars participating in SantaCon this year — 10, as opposed to 30 in 2017 — however, the number of arrests were nearly the same as last year (17).
Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla, speaking to CBS2 by phone, said he and Chief Ferrante will sit down to consider operational changes for the event.
“Bar crawls, where people get disorderly at 11 o’clock in the morning, urinating in public. These are the type of things that are not conducive with who we are in Hoboken,” Bhalla said.
While the mayor and police think about how they can make SantaCon less disruptive, a lot of locals said they want the event shut down, altogether.
“It’s just filled with people screaming and yelling and they keep serving them liquor,” resident Mike Schmidt said.
“The people who should be punished are the people who commit the acts, not the business owners and the event, itself,” Citarella said.
Last weekend’s SantaCon event in New York City reportedly only resulted in two arrested. However, dozens of summonses were issued at that event as well.
Along with law enforcement, several local bars are now actively discouraging people from showing up at their businesses in the jolly red suits.
“They’re running around, partying, half of them are naked, out of control,” New York resident Jeff Marcus argued.
Officials in the Tri-State Area have tried to cut down on the rowdy public drinking by banning alcohol on Long Island Rail Road and NJ TRANSIT trains during SantaCon events.