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'SantaCon' Sees Backlash From Lower East Side Businesses

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 8 2:18 p.m.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City's annual "SantaCon" event draws thousands of Santas into Manhattan to participate in a day of organized holiday bar hopping that also helps raise money for charity.

But not everyone is up for this jolly good time. Some merchants on the Lower East Side plan to 'scrooge' SantaCon -- held this coming Saturday -- by banning costumed drinkers from their businesses.

Some businesses, like Tompkins Square Bagels, of the Lower East Side, have even posted signs letting the 'Santas' know they won't be welcome.

"We are hoping they get the point that Christmas is about holiday cheer and having a good time-- and not being disruptive," Frank Russo, of Tompkins Square Bagels, said

Some residents said they plan to evacuate the city on Saturday because of the event.

"They're really going to the bar getting wasted and then coming out making a raucous," one resident told CBS2's Emily Smith of the costumed participants.

The secretive flash mob has not revealed what neighborhoods they will descend upon this. State Sen. Brad Hoylman said that is irresponsible.

"They play this cat-and-mouse game, not just with their participants, but also with elected officials and community boards," he told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond. "And that doesn't show any respect to our neighborhoods."

Hoylman is also concerned about misuse of police resources.

Sources said the route will begin in Brooklyn and end in Manhattan.

According to Norman Siegel, attorney for SantaCon, it's OK for businesses to turn away costumed participants, but the event will still go on.

"It's part satire, but in essence, it's to have a good time," Siegel said.

He told 1010 WINS they've been working with police to ensure better behavior.

"The images of the past, and I've seen some of the video, it's horrible. People were drunk, fighting, vomiting," Siegel said.

A dozen of elected officials have asked the state liquor authority to warn bar owners that letting the Santas get out of control could cost them their liquor license.

According to the event's website, the SantaCon tradition began in San Francisco in 1994 and has grown to become an annual event, celebrated in cities around the world.

The event raised around $60,000 for charity last year, Smith reported.

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