HOBOKEN, N.J. — Like gifts beneath a Christmas tree, the arrests piled up during Hoboken's SantaCon, while the town's police chief live tweeted his tally as 17 revelers were booked Saturday. Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante called the total number of cuffed Kringles "staggering."
Ferrante tweeted that the arrests ranged from aggravated assault to drug possession. At least 55 people were taken to a local hospital during the roughly 16-hour gathering, an annual festival in which merrymakers dressed as Santa Claus visit multiple bars. The numbers far outpaced the 2016 tally in the New Jersey city just west of Manhattan, when just five were arrested and 23 transported to the hospital.
The sixth arrest of the day, according to Ferrante, was a 22-year-old woman from Linden, N.J. who allegedly punched a police officer in the face. She was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest.
"How some try to paint this as a "CHARITABLE EVENT" is absolutely laughable," Ferrante said in a tweet announcing the woman's arrest.
A website for the event says, "participants are invited to bring new toys or donations to help a child in need this holiday season." It is not clear how many people made donations this year.
Prior to this year's SantaCon events in Hoboken, New York City and elsewhere, New Jersey Transit and New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, issued drinking prohibitions that coincided with the events.
Ferrante told local news station FIOS News 1 that the first call to police came at about 11:15 am, and the first fight was reported around 1 p.m. Last year, the first fight occurred much later, he said.
Ferrante tweeted Sunday that the Hoboken Police Department issued 51 non-criminal summonses for drinking in the street, public urination and disorderly conduct. Officers also issued 32 moving violation summonses to drivers operating vehicles unlawfully.
By 3:30 p.m., when the town had already matched 2016's totals for arrests and summonses, Hoboken's Mayor-elect Ravinder Bhalla tweeted a lump of coal toward organizers of any future SantaCon, saying it is not welcome in the city.