The Portland Cacophony Society is all about disrupting people's normal, boring lives, but recently, they've been inspiring more ire than excitement. All month I've been hearing the confused grumblings: What the hell is up with SantaCon? There's been rumors of a decoy SantaCon and something about Hillsboro. I decided to dig into the story.
Originally put together by SantaCon is an annual bar-crawl perpetrated by drunken culture jammers in Santa suits. The first Portland SantaCon reportedly took place in 1996, when a plane load of Santas flew up from San Francisco and - according the highly reliable wikipedia entry - were quickly met by riot cops. (Those of you who were here in the '90s will remember riot cops were the city's answer to many questions, including, "Who do you use to mace small babies at protests?") After some negotiation, the Santa crawl of '96 went forward, with only one Santa arrested for giving someone a gift wrapped in a Playboy centerfold without checking his I.D.
The event has grown in popularity over the years, with over 700 Santas reportedly showing up for last year's crawl. This year's SantaCon, however, was marred by confusion.
First, reports came out that police would crack down on the event if it stepped foot in Downtown. This lead to rumors of a new Hillsboro and NoPo events, among others, and strange postings on the Portland Cacophony Event Calendar (which anyone can edit) like the following:
December 6 2008
12:00pm - 11:00pm
Santa luv's all u mofo's!!!!
Santa Con 86ed.... Suckers
Max line platform, end of line in Hillsbrro
Ho Ho Ho- Because Cupcake McFastlane called assholes we 86ed Santa Con this year.. Sorry. Blame her if you must blame...... but don't hate and remember to recycle.
A second posting also hinted at a super secret SantaCon event, to take place tomorrow (December 13th).
At least two different pub-crawls actually happened, the traditional SantaCon in Downtown, and a newly dubbed "Anti-Con" in North Portland (PDX Pipeline got the skinny). So, in a desperate attempt to make myself seem relevant, I set out on my own Downtown pub-crawl, to see if I could find anyone who was working Saturday night and get their story.
Most of the information I found was of the hushed, second hand type. One bartender at Kelly's Olympian said he was hanging out when the Santas came through. When pressed to describe the event, he responded with one word, "Awesome".
Finally, I managed to get a hold of the infamous "Cupcake McFastlane" via e-mail and they gave me the full story from their point of view. Read their lengthy explanation below the cut.
From the files of Cupcake McFastlane:
A little background: the event has been getting increasingly larger & larger attracting people that just want to fuck things up. Such as vandalism and graffiti. Last year there were some people that attended the event that made it a drag. Breaking things and tagging buildings and private property. That's not what the Santa event is all about.
So with that in mind......The people that said they were going to organize the event got fed up with all the bullshit that comes with being a Santa Herder and decided to tell everyone to go to Hillsboro. I really had nothing to do with the event this year other then to tell everyone that it was up to them to organize their own Santa event. We are not here to entertain you, you must entertain yourselves.
I think the last one I organized was in 2001. I turned it over to Santa Rob and he has been the organizer for the last several years. At the 2007 event, where they had about 700 people showed up, he decided it was time for someone else to take over. Several people had ideas that they could organize a Santa event. So about 4 or 5 people started to put the event together. It got to be more then they wanted so they turned it around and told everyone to go out to Hillsboro.
I have heard about events happening this weekend. I believe that people have finally realized that they can in fact make their own event. They are getting friends together and rampaging as Santa in their own neighborhoods. Having fun getting drunk and not waiting for a schedule from Cacophony to tell them where to go or what to do. Using our outline...people are entertaining themselves. That is what the whole thing is about anyway.
So there you have it, we've hit a watershed moment. No one is in control of the multiplying mobs of costumed binge drinkers. God knows where this thing will go from here. A new calendar posting says people are meeting at noon, at SW 2nd Ave. If you need an excuse to get drunk and dress like Santa, this is your chance.
— reported by Kyle the unpaid intern