It was the annual Santacon event, and informally organized flashmob where everyone shows up dressed in Santa suits and proceeds to waunder and drink their way around Manhattan for an entire day until they either pass out or score with an elf.
We encountered the Santas as we walked through Central Park on our way to the Wohlman skating rink. We literally crossed paths with thousands of them, slowly milling their way up the hill as they prepared to catch a subway train downtown to the Villages and whatever the next stop their Twitter masters had Tweeted to them.
Some of the rules of Santacon (aside from the always enjoyable "we don't talk about Santacon") from the official website:
"What to expect: Santacon is an annual convention for Santa and his holiday brethren. Expect holiday cheer, unconventional gifts, naughty carols and general mayhem. Do not expect to be entertained: Santa IS the entertainment!
"How to be Santa: Santa doesn’t just wear a cool suit and invade your dad’s liquor cabinet: he also brings gifts! A gift can be a reindeer game, a song, a dance or a joke to entertain Santa and tourists alike."
"How NOT to be Santa: Santa never endangers his reindeer with violence, vandalism, inappropriate groping or theft. Santa never gets SO jolly he needs babysitting. Santa never expects to get away with behavior that an ordinary citizen wouldn’t. It’s not a bar crawl! Every time you call Santacon a bar crawl, a sugarplum fairy dies."
Were the Santas unruly? None that we saw. Most were just plain fun. Many posted for photos with kids and stunned tourists. Groups chanted "HO! HO! HO! HO!" loudly and robustly. Want to get a taste of the mayhem? Enjoy: