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Metro-North, LIRR To Ban Alcohol For SantaCon This Weekend

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Nobody attending SantaCon this weekend – and nobody else either, for that matter – will be drinking alcohol on Metro-North or Long Island Rail Road for most of this weekend.

The bar crawl festival is set for Saturday in a yet-to-be-announced location in New York City. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has issued a preemptive ban on alcohol on the Metro-North from 9 a.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Sunday "to maintain orderly travel and safe station and terminal operations" during SantaCon, according to a news release.

Alcohol will also be banned on the LIRR for an even longer period -- 11 p.m. Friday until noon Sunday, according to a news release.

MTA Police Officers will be aboard trains, and at Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and outlying stations on both commuter rail systems, the releases said. Any alcohol that police spot will be confiscated, and summonses will be issued carrying fines of $50 and a possible penalty of imprisonment up to 30 days.

Violators may also be kicked off trains or out of stations by police, the releases said.

Alcohol is generally allowed on Metro-North trains, but temporary bans are instituted on occasion for customer and crew safety. Alcohol is regularly banned on the LIRR between midnight Saturday nights and 5 a.m. Sundays.

SantaCon has been criticized by some for being too rowdy for several years.

Last year, an incident made the news involving Santas throwing punches at each other at Third Avenue between 16th and 17th streets.

In November, when local leaders in Bushwick got wind that the Santas wanted to drop in there, they said no way.

This year, SantaCon has hired high-powered civil rights attorney Norman Siegel amid the complaints about its rowdiness.

"There have been some negative activities in the past, the organizers tell me they don't condone that, I don't condone that," Siegel told WCBS 880 on Wednesday.

The event's organizers said in a statement they've raised tens of thousands for good causes over the year, saying "SantaCon's charity component is not just white bearded lip service."

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