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Santarchy Invades Scottsdale on December 17

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Bar owners of Old Town Scottsdale take warning: There's a good chance your establishment will be invaded by sea of red-suited revelers sometime during the evening hours of Saturday, December 17.

Here's a tip on how to deal with the situation: Refrain from ringing up Scottsdale's finest and instead make sure you've got plenty of beer and booze at the ready. Said invaders are participating in Santarchy and are eager to suck down some spirits while celebrating the Christmas season.

The annual event, which is celebrated in cities nationwide and has been put on locally by the Arizona Cacophony Society every year since 2007, features hundreds of costumed pranksters, merrymakers, and urbanites who are dressed as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, or other ensembles inspired by Kris Kringle. Each year, a progressively larger throng of participants descends upon a variety of bars and drinking establishments throughout Old Town Scottsdale during the evening-long bar crawl.

Arizona Cacophony member Chromatest J. Pantsmaker is one of the folks who helped organize the outrageous event in the past and is expecting this year's edition to be just as joyful as ever.

"It's gonna be more of the usual mayhem," Chromatest says, "Which I expect will be lots of fun and maybe have some twists and surprises this year."

And what exactly will these "twists and surprises" involve?

"That's all I can say about that, otherwise they wouldn't be a surprise," he says.

One thing that is set in stone, Chromatest adds, is the fact that each and every participant must wear a Santa-suit or Santa-inspired getup.

​"It's absolutely required that people dress up in Santa garb or another outfit that's Santa-like, and not just like Christmas clothing or holiday sweaters or whatever," he says. "If you want to wear an ugly sweater, there are events that cater to that."

For those who don't have the means to rent or make the specific suit worn by Father Christmas, Chromatest encourages potential participants to "get creative," such as dressing as a "Cowboy Santa," "Sexy Santa," or even a gigantic lump of coal.

"We've had people dress as elves or a reindeer here and there," he says. "Not just someone wearing antlers and their regular clothes."

In other words, you're not going to get away with wearing a Santa cap.

"Well, unless you're extremely sexy and buying people lots of drinks, that's not gonna fly," Chromatest says. "People are pretty serious about it and I've seen people getting heckled away because they're not as prepared as they should be."

Besides making sure they're dressed in an appropriate costume, participants might also want to bring along a new unwrapped toy, as donations for Toys for Tots will be collected during the event.

"Because if everybody can afford to go out drinking in Scottsdale on a Saturday night, they can afford to buy a $5-$10 toy for some kid that would otherwise get nothing," Chromatest says.

Currently, Santarchy's organizers haven't determined the starting point for the event and the particular establishments that will be visited, which Chromatest explains can be a difficult task due to the number of participants and the complexity of picking the right bars to visit. (Participants are encouraged to visit the Arizona Cacophony site or sign up for it e-mail list for more details.)

"We're at the size that we actually have to plan the route out a little bit more than the first couple years," he says. "We look at areas that have clusters of bars where there might be one or two awesome bars we want to visit, but also have other bars close by in case we get kicked out or there's not enough room for everyone."

Like the Coach House, which refused to let Santarchy revelers inside one year because they simply didn't have the space.

Chromatest jokes that turning away a mass of angry and inebriated Santas might not be a wise thing to do. He adds that while there are plenty of drunken shenanigans each year, no one's ever gotten violent or out of control

"There's the potential that everyone could get just get pissed off and start being jerks, especially if Santa's already been drinking way too much eggnog. Four hundred liquored up Santas is never a good sight," he says. "But we've never had anything bad happen during Santarchy. We've been fortunate."

After all, you wouldn't want to wind up on the "Naughty List" thanks to a instigating a drunken brawl.

Santarchy 2011 takes place on Saturday, December 17, in Old Town Scottsdale. Visit AZ Cacaphony's website for specific start time and location info.

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