SantaCon 2010: Yountville
SantaCon is an annual convention for Santa and holiday brethren. Hitting international proportion, most fests include revelry, drinking, bawdy behavior, ill-fitting costumes, scratchy beards and comments that may get you slapped. But that’s the view from the inside. As a passerby who chance comes across this flock or red, SantaConners pledge courtesy, holiday cheer, goodwill, entertainment and financial support to the local bar economy.
In a little country town like Yountville, California, population 3,300, median age 60, news of SantaCon 2010 flew like a reindeer. Residents and tourists alike were dazzled, amused, charmed and entertained by a vibrant and silly enclave of red suits hitting the streets, parking benches, lounge chairs and dance hall floors. Christopher Smith, a key organizer of the Yountville event, provided a recap of the day.
The Meet Up, Dress Up
Anyone not arriving in suit and beard could share a communal dressing and staging area while warming to bubbles, Crown Royal, Pabst Blue Ribbon and mulled wine from Kaz Winery Texas. With a force hovering around 15 suits, the syndicate then headed out.
Stop 1: Cornerstorne Cellars
Host Craig Camp at Cornerstone Cellars offered Santas gratis tastings, plus a little to fill their bellies: plates of hors d’oeurves from Hurley’s restaurant. Munch, munch, swill, swill.
Stop 2: Impromptu (already!) at the Yountville Veteran’s Home
The 14+ Santas opted to make it an eco day, piling into the famed Yountville trolley for transport between each destination. A savvy driver, this one knew all the hot spots and quickly shared that the Yountville Veteran’s Home just across the highway was having a holiday party. “Would a stop-in and hello fit into their busy holiday schedule?” Socializing and singing and sipping from Dixie cups … all Santas claimed this to be the most heartwarming and memorable stop!
Stop 3: Domaine Chandon
A quick trolley coast down the path and over to Domaine. Tourists snapped photos and Santas purchased magnums of bubbly to enjoy on the patio. The group grew to include what was later dubbed “Santa’s Official Photographers,” AKA the Renegade Photo Shoots gang, who had just photographed at Trefethen Family Vineyards and Yountville 1870. All piled onto the trolley and heard tales that Yountville may just be the town where BinSanta has been hiding.
Stop 4: Hurley’s
A Santa swarm visit at Hurley’s took the mid-afternoon rail count from four to more than 20. Martinis, exotic wine country cocktails, hard liquor and a splash more vino parched thirsty lips of Kris Kringles. After a couple rounds (and a bit more camera mugging) it was time to move up the road on foot.
Stop 4: Bouchon Bistro
A gem of an interior, Bouchon Bistro offers old world Paris in the valley. According to Santa Chris, “There was no way we were passing up the opportunity to shove a bunch of Santa into such a tiny place.” More mixed drinks, bubbles and beer flowed for Santas as they entertained staff and valley visitors. SantaCon added even more revelers at this stop.
Stop 6: Pacific Blues
Just down and across the street, Pacific Blues is one of Santa Chris’s favorite low key hangouts. It’s got a mighty wine selection, so while upright Santas deciphered vintages, propped up Santas played reindeer games such as enticing lady elves to disrobe. Business hit a happy hour rush once droves of visitors caught wind of the spectacle and headed in to see what was going on.
Stop 7: Bottega
Good thing Santas are hearty, but not too heavy for the deluxe patio furniture by the fire at Bottega restaurant, next stop for the day. A few tipsy and sleepy Santas started fading and falling from the expensive comfy lawn furniture; they were taken home safely by elves or other. Remaining Santas were undeterred, but in need of activity to rouse the senses.
Stop 7: Pancha’s
A quick Santa syndicate vote determined it might not be a good idea to skate on Younville’s faux ice rink, as originally planned, instead opting for alternate exercise with a Santa Shuffle at Pancha’s. It’s gotta be a dive if the place STILL does not have its own Web site. Shares Santa Chris, “Good old Pancha’s–the only dive bar in Napa. This place is owner-operated, smoke infested and cash only.” Santas danced, pranced, drank and rumor has it, did a little groping.
Home Again, Home Again: Trolley Call!
With fond memories, Santa Chris vaguely recalls making that final trolley request to retrieve red suits still standing. “Even after a full day of traipsing Yountville Santas just did not want to go home. This marks our very first SantaCon and one that will certainly become a YountVegas tradition. We’re already scheming the next Con event–BunnyCon could be it!”
Join Yountville Cons, email Chris Smith, email@example.com
Photograph something nutty, Renegade Photo Shoots
SantaCon Code of Conduct (as referenced on SantaCon NYC):
• Don’t Mess With Kids
(Be nice to them and give them presents; it’s okay to mess with their parents)
• Don’t Mess With Cops
(How will you shimmy down chimneys if you’re in jail?)
• Don’t Be A Jerk
(Play nice, there will be many Santas watching, so don’t F-with the SantaCon. Leave your machismo at home)
• Don’t Mess With SANTA!
(Santa loves creative holiday attire from naughty elves to Hannukah Harrys. Santa loves candy-striped stripper poles, whimsical stocking stuffers and holiday games for boys and girls. Santa does not love gropey frat boys in a Santa hat and jeans)
• Santa does not accept corporate sponsorship or speak to the press