Nerd Culture

Santarchy Announces 2015 Edition in Scottsdale

Ready or not, the holidays are just over the horizon and everyone’s already busy making plans. That includes the members of local prankster group the Arizona Cacophony Society who have set a date for the 2015 edition of Santarchy, their biggest and most anticipated event of the year.

Organizers of the annual Santa-themed event in Scottsdale, which involves thousands of costumed participants dressed as Kris Kringle or other characters inspired by the holiday season drinking their way through the city’s entertainment district, announced earlier this week on Facebook that this year’s version will take place on the evening of Saturday, December 12.

As with previous editions of Santarchy, which have taken place locally since 2007, participants will gather at a bar along Craftsman Court in Scottsdale — specifically at Old Town Gringos (formerly known as Dos Gringos) — before hitting up a series of other restaurants and drinkeries in the vicinity.
And just in year’s past, it’s likely to be one of the more unique experiences of the holidays, to say the least. Picture this: hordes of Santas, elves, anthropomorphized reindeer, sexy snowbunnies, Jack Skellingtons, human candy canes, Grinches, and gingerbread men crowding the sidewalks and bars of Scottsdale or engaged in harmless-yet-amusing shenanigans.

The Valley isn’t the only city that has a Santarchy, as similar events (also referred to as “SantaCon” or "Santapalooza") are held every year in locations worldwide, including New York, London, Shanghai, Vancouver, Tokyo, and elsewhere.

As much a costuming event as it is a bar crawl and subversive prank aimed at “twisting the holiday paradigm until it screams for mercy,” Santarchy not only requires that participants dress up (it's pretty much mandatory) but also emphasizes creativity in their get-ups.

According to Larry Steech, an Arizona Cacophony Society member and frequent Santarchy participant, it’s why there’s many different interpretations of Santa Claus seen at the event every December, including mashups inspired by Breaking Bad, Beetlejuice, or Star Wars.

It’s not limited to interpretations of Saint Nicholas, however, as we've also witnessed people dressed as Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Yukon Cornelius from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Ralphie Parker from A Christmas Story in recent years.

“Everybody kinda does their own thing and makes it unique but they're all Santa or Christmas-related at least," he says. "It's always impressive because there's so many different types every year."

Santarchy 2015 takes place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 12, in Scottsdale. Participation is free.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.