Several hundred Santas walked into a bar this past weekend. No, that's not the setup for the lamest Christmas joke ever, but instead is the most succinct way we could sum up this year's edition of Santarchy, which took place on Saturday, December 6, in downtown Scottsdale.
Thing is, it wasn't just an endless series of Saint Nick doppelgangers that participated in the annual urban prank and bar crawl, as an enormous cadre of characters in costumes inspired by the holidays in every form and fashion hit up most of the bigger bars in Scottsdale -- including Dos Gringos, Rockbar, Wasted Grain, The Derby, Hi Fi, and Maya -- and filled 'em to capacity.
We saw herds of reindeer and snow bunnies, Mrs. Claus times ten, angels, snowmen, and several different iterations of Buddy from Elf. There was also Santa Jaws, life-size stockings and gifts, and something called "Soul Santa." Heck, we even found Jesus.
Some costumes stuck out from the rest because of their creativity or memorable nature, including the following eight outfits, which were our favorites.
Although Beetlejuice largely associated with Halloween, especially given the spooky nature of the original Tim Burton film that spawned him, many of the costumes at Santarchy involve mashups of every sort. So when we encountered local resident Craig Zielinski dressed as the "ghost with the most," it felt downright appropriate. However, we had to suppress the urge to utter "Beetlejuice" three times in a row to see if Zielinski would dissappear in a puff of smoke.
We're willing to bet that a lot more people would be nice instead of naughty if this tough-as-nails mashup of Santa and fictional soldier John Rambo, portrayed by Valley resident Gabe Garcia, was the one deciding who got gifts during the Christmas season. The 45-year-old, who lives in San Tan Valley, probably would've dug that immensely as a teenager, since he was a major fan of the character and the movies around that era. "Rambo was a big thing when I was in high school," Garcia says.
The Grinch and Martha May
The Grinch is sort of inescapable this time of year. Its almost guaranteed that you'll hear the song from the 1966 holiday special at least once and probably even catch a few glimpses of the special itself. So its no surprise that we saw at least a couple different instances of the character at Santarchy. No one, however, went all out with their costume like David Baldwin, who wore a green morph suit, painted his face, and donned a piece of neon green faux fur to complete his Grinch ensemble. He was accompanied by his S.O. Samanatha Diaz, who dressed as the Grinch's love interest Martha May from the 2000 film version of the tale. "It's one of our six favorite movies," Baldwin says, "And we knew we could pull it off." And indeed they did.
Yukon Cornelius and Hermey
When Josh England and Roushan Ghanbari were considering costume ideas for this year's Santarchy, they wanted to be something other than some Kris Kringle clones. "It was hard to find costume ideas since there are so many Santas," England says. Eventually, they decided to portray the loveably gruff arctic prospector Yukon Cornelius and the misfit elf (and would-be dentist) Hermey from the classic Rankin-Bass holiday special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was a good choice, considering the beloved status of both characters.
Santa's Naughty or Nice List
Joanna Rawcliffe of Dallas faced a similar dilemma with her costume. She came all the way to Phoenix to attend Santarchy with her bestie, who resides here in the Valley, but was undecided about what to be up until the day of the event. "We were driving around and I was thinking, 'What kind of Santa can I be?' Then it came to me, I can be Santa's list." As such turned a plain white shirt into a running tally of those Santarchy participants who thought they were either naughty or nice. Tellingly, when we spoke with Rawcliffe, there were slightly more names on the naughty side of things, which wasn't too surprising, given the debaucherous nature of the event.
The Knight Before Christmas
The award for the cleverest costume of Santarchy goes to Winston Anderson of Chandler as the Intel engineer mixed an actual suit of armor that he purchased off Craigslist with a traditional Santa suit to create this funny visual pun. This festive knight even had a damsel in distress in the form of his fiancé, Jodi Shannan, but was more interested in wielding drinks in his hand instead of a sword.
More than a few Santarchy participants attended the event while dressed as Randy Quaid's loveably hickoid character Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, particularly from the memorable scene where he empties sewage from his RV into a storm drain while wearing a skimpy bathrobe, a hunter's cap, and little else. Austin Moreland of Peoria was our favorite of the bunch, since he acted just as vociferously ribald as character when we encountered him at Dos Gringos, loudly exclaiming, "Shitter was full!" with just as much gusto as Quaid.
Dick in a Box
Of the many hilarious digital shorts created by the members of Lonely Island for Saturday Night Live, arguably the funniest is the R&B slow jam from Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg extolling the virtues of packaging up their packages for Christmas. Local resident Shaun Eatherly is as much of a fan of the short as we are, as it inspired his Santarchy costume. Thankfully, he refrained from following the step-by-step instructions laid out in the song to letter and instead just mounted the mock-up of a gift-wrapped box on his waist.