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Despite Criticism, SantaCon Participants Say Bar Crawl Is Fun & Good For Businesses

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- SantaCon came to New York City on Saturday.

At the base of the Flatiron Building, more than 1,000 people kicked off the event in a bright, glittery and loud fashion, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.

The annual holiday bar crawl has drawn criticism in recent years over the rowdy behavior from Santa-suit wearing revelers.

Some New Yorkers say they could live without it.

"I think young people might have something better to do than get drunk," Stephanie Terril, of the Lower East Side, said.

The city tradition started in the 1990s, and is criticized year after year for boozy bad behavior by some.

Additional police officers were called to work Saturday to monitor the subways for signs of drinking and to patrol the sidewalks to keep the costumed characters in line.

"We both hate SantaCon," John Nelson said.

He and a friend tried to convince the crowd to disperse, admitting to CBS2 that he was behind the fliers that falsely claimed the event had been canceled.

Police led Nelson and his friend away in handcuffs.

Officially, there are 50 bars that participate in the event, and some owners said they see triple their typical profits during the day.

Organizers agreed, saying SantaCon is good for business and helps people.

"We have raised over $50,000 already, which will go to local charities and arts organizations," organizer Christopher Hardwick said.

The Santa-suit clad crowds told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern it's all in good fun.

"It's sad because there are people that will come out, drink and get rowdy. But there are people that do it for the peace," one man said. "Me and my group of friends are very peaceful, we respect the neighbors." 

What would they say to those who choose to focus on the bad Santas?

"They need to have some more fun," one woman said.

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