Hundreds in costumes revel at festive SantaCon

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SantaCon 2015
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Hundreds in costumes revel at festive SantaCon
Revelers dressed in holiday theme costumes gather as they participate in SantaCon in New York Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
People dressed as Santa and other holiday related outfits parade around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Security check ids of Revelers dressed in holiday theme costumes as they enter a club during SantaCon in New York Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in New York. Tracing its origins to a prankish, anti-consumerist gathering in San Francisco in 1994, SantaCon has mushroomed into events in hundreds of cities. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Two people dressed as a Santa share a kiss on the subway platform during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa Claus and other holiday related outfits start their parade after meeting in Brooklyn's McCarren Park during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa and other holiday related outfits start their parade around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa gather in Brooklyn's McCarren Park during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa and other holiday related outfits parade around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A crowd of people dressed as Santa gather for a group photo during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa Claus and other holiday related outfits start their parade after meeting in Brooklyn's McCarren Park during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Revelers dressed in holiday-themed costumes sing as they participate in SantaCon in New York on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. Tracing its origins to a prankish, anti-consumerist gathering in San Francisco in 1994, SantaCon has mushroomed into events in hundreds of cities. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 12: Dozens of Santa Claus and holiday themed characters pose for a group photo in front of the White House during the annual Santarchy DC group's tour of Washington landmarks on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
People dressed as Santa Claus and other holiday related outfits start their parade after meeting in Brooklyn's McCarren Park during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa Claus gather in Brooklyn's McCarren Park during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A reveler dressed in a holiday themed costume throws an empty can of beer inside a garbage truck as he participates in SantaCon in New York, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A man dressed enters the Bedford Ave. subway station during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Men dressed as a Santa ride the subway with a man dressed as the Easter Bunny during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa and other holiday related outfits start their parade around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Revelers dressed in holiday theme costumes drink alcohol as a woman comes out with her laundry during SantaCon in New York Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in New York. As thousands of Santa-suited merrymakers prepare to hit the city's streets and bars, organizers of the annual pub crawl say they're taking more steps than ever to deter naughty behavior.(AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Revelers dressed in holiday theme costumes play basketball as they participate in SantaCon in New York on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. Tracing its origins to a prankish, anti-consumerist gathering in San Francisco in 1994, SantaCon has mushroomed into events in hundreds of cities. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Revelers dressed in holiday theme costumes gather in the park as they participate in SantaCon in the borough of Brooklyn in New York Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. As thousands of Santa-suited merrymakers prepare to hit the city's streets and bars, organizers of the annual pub crawl say they're taking more steps than ever to deter naughty behavior.(AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
People dressed as Santa Claus and other holiday related outfits start their parade after meeting in Brooklyn's McCarren Park during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa or other holiday related outfits around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015. 2015 is the 21st anniversary of SantaCon, a event where groups of men and woman dress as Santa . AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 12: U.S. Secret Service officers ask a tuba carrying Santa Claus to move away from the White House fence on Pennsylvania Ave. as the annual Santarchy DC group stops at the White House during their tour of city landmarks on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A police officer removes a reveler from standing on a post as they guard and clear the street of revelers dressed in holiday themed costumes during SantaCon in New York Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Three men dressed as Santa talk to a child in the subway station during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa and other holiday related outfits start their parade around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Men dressed as a Santa drink at a bar called The Hall during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa and other holiday related outfits parade around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa and other holiday related outfits start their parade around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
People dressed as Santa and other holiday related outfits start their parade around the Brooklyn section of the city during the SantaCon 2015 in New York City December 12, 2015, the 21st anniversary of the event that sees hundreds of people dress as Father Christmas. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A man dressed as a Santa walks past a mural in Williamsburg during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A man dressed as a Santa holds a large candy cane during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A woman dressed as a reindeer helps someone with her costume at a bar called The Hall during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
A man dressed in a Santa outfit sleeps on the Staten Island during the SantaCon in New York City on December 12, 2015. SantaCon is an event where groups of men and woman dress as Santa. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: People dressed in holiday garb wait for the subway on the platform during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: A man dressed as a Santa drinks a cocktail at a club called Verboten during the annual SantaCon pub crawl December 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of revelers take part in the holiday pub crawl, though some local bars and businesses have banned participants in an effort to avoid the typically rowdy SantaCon crowds. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Santas came by the hundreds, reindeer formed a kick line and oversized elves cavorted with saucy Mrs. Clauses as a police helicopter circled overhead.

Welcome to SantaCon, the annual Christmastime costume-parade-meets-pub-crawl that was hoping this year would persuade New York it's more nice than naughty.

"Look out for your reindeer. Look out for your elves," organizers advised the crowd as Saturday's festivities began with a mix of safety messages and psyching-up: "Can I get a 'ho'?!"

Before long, over a thousand costumed revelers were headed off to bar-hop and make merry through Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Jessica Carr and Victoria Pirolli had turned themselves into snow globes, each encasing her head and torso in bubble-umbrella-like plastic, with a foam rubber base around the hips. The two science teachers from New Jersey said they were at their fifth SantaCon for the creativity, not the carousing that earned the event an out-of-control reputation in recent years.

"We have fun," Pirolli said. "We don't pee in bushes or anything."

Tracing its origins to a prankish, anti-consumerist gathering in San Francisco in 1994, SantaCon has mushroomed into events in hundreds of cities, with New York's generally the biggest.

It's also drawn criticism, particularly after the 2012 and 2013 celebrations generated two arrests, 85 summonses for disorderly conduct and other offenses, and online videos of brawling St. Nicks. Organizers say there were no arrests or summonses last year.

Pressured to clean up SantaCon's act, organizers began telling police their plans in 2013. This year, they released their route days ahead of time, got a permit to assemble at Brooklyn's McCarren Park and even agreed to tweet police advice about pedestrian safety. And SantaCon's lawyer, Norman Siegel, said Saturday the group aimed to self-police anyone who got out of line.

Still, a dozen city and state officials publicly aired concerns about potential binge drinking and bad behavior. Police Commissioner William Bratton on Friday warned "anybody who wants to come into the city and raise hell dressed up as Santa Claus — we're not going to tolerate it." NYPD Chief James O'Neill suggested the event was a burden at a time of heightened security concerns after attacks by extremists in Paris and elsewhere.

"We are in trying times all throughout the world, and to have to expend more resources on an event like this, at times, it's frustrating," O'Neill said.

To four-time SantaCon-goer Michael Fincher, troubled times were an argument for the celebration, not against it.

"With what's going on in the world today, we need something lighter," said Fincher, a retail worker from Middlesex, New Jersey.

Something lighter -- or light-saber, in the case of the Lambert family, decked out in a Santa-meets-"Star Wars" theme. Including 4-year-old Aliana as Princess, yes, Sleigha.

"It incorporates family values, if you seek them out," said Steven Lambert, who said his Manhattan family would skip the bar scene and be home by noon. "Its origins are based on festivity, regardless of religion or beliefs. That's the fun of being a New Yorker."

Watch more coverage:

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