Hundreds of San Francisco residents dressed in Santa and elf costumes were out in full-swing Saturday afternoon and evening, drinking at bars across the city.

The red- and green-dressed festive drinkers are participating in SantaCon, an annual national event involving people dressing up in Santa costumes and taking to the streets, which in San Francisco began in 1994, according to the event’s site.

“I would say we’re about on par with the number of Santas from last year,” said Michael Thompson, a manager at Harvey’s bar and restaurant in the Castro District.

Thompson said he saw about four Santas in the bar at about 6:30 p.m., but he had seen hundreds earlier in the day.

Participants began roaming the city at about 1 p.m. and have been loosely following a list of bars posted at SF Bay Area Santarchy. The list shows each bar’s address and best time for Santas to congregate at the location.

“A boatload of Santas rolled in at about 5 p.m.,” said Jason, a bartender at Gold Cane Cocktail Lounge in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. He said he saw about 150 people dressed in Santa costumes, and he had seen hundreds throughout the day.

“The Santas are playing pool and carousing,” he said.

But not all bars have seen a turnout like the one at Gold Cane.

“There are fewer Santas this year,” said Jeff, a bartender at Twin Peaks bar in the Castro District.

He said he saw about 20 people dressed in costumes at about 6:30 p.m., but that hundreds–and maybe thousands–were roaming the streets near the bar since this afternoon.

“I’ve heard other bars are really crowded,” he said.

About 50 Santas were seen in Lucky 13 bar on Market Street at about 6:30 p.m., a bartender said.

“Every year we get hundreds and hundreds of them, so we’ve always been super packed,” Lucky 13 bartender Martin Kraenkel said.


Photos: James Corrigan

Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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